Sclafani’s Monster Night Leads No. 7 Brick Past Toms River North
TOMS RIVER — For Halloween, Carmen Sclafani was a monster.
Listen to the complete game broadcast at the end of this report
In an emotional game against his former team, Brick’s senior quarterback erupted for 250 yards rushing and four touchdowns on 26 carries to power the Dragons to a 30-13 Shore Conference Class A South victory over Toms River North on Friday night in the Shore Sports Network Jersey Mike's Game of the Week.
Sclafani eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark in the victory for the third consecutive season, and now has 1,000 yards rushing and passing this season.
“It was personal for me and personal for everyone,” Sclafani said about facing a Mariners program he spent his first two years at, starting as a sophomore at quarterback. “They were a little disrespectful to some of our players and coaches last year and it got personal, not just for me but for everyone, really.”
Sclafani was injured in last season’s game, as well, and missed two additional games as a result.
“I guess that was a little part of the personal grudge,” Sclafani said. “That was unexpected last year and I don’t think it’s the same outcome if I don’t get hurt, so it was great to finish the game and get the win. (Thursday) night and (Friday) morning I was telling myself no one is taking me down tonight. I couldn’t let that happen.”
Sclafani ran for 169 yards and three touchdowns in the second half to help the Dragons (7-1, 6-0) clinch at least a share of the Class A South title, which is their first division title since 2008. They can win the division outright with a win over Toms River South next week. Sclafani’s huge game now gives him 1,096 passing yards and 15 touchdowns to go along with 1,096 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns.
“He always plays the game with heart and soul, but tonight he played with a little more than he usually does,” Brick head coach Rob Dahl said of Sclafani. “He was amped up. Brick and Toms River North has turned into every bit as much a rivalry as Brick and Brick Memorial, and Carmen had his focus all week.”
Sclafani’s outstanding individual performance became overshadowed, however, by a late-game fracas that resulted in three players being ejected. After a long run by Toms River North sophomore quarterback Mike Husni, he was apparently hit late out of bounds along the Toms River North sideline by Brick senior defensive back Tommy Leech. A scrum followed and flags flew everywhere, and when the dust settled Leech and senior linebacker Ray Fattaruso had been ejected from the game, along with Toms River North sophomore wideout Bryce Watts. By rule, all three players will be suspended an additional game.
“The officials said it was Fattaruso’s second personal foul so he had to be ejected, which is wrong because we had another player, Matthew Gerrity, who got the personal foul earlier in the game,” Dahl said.
“And with Tommy Leech they said it was a late hit and some unnecessary roughness out of bounds. He has 60 players and coaches in his face and he pushed a kid out of his face, which they called, too. I thought the original hit by Tommy was in bounds and that’s why I had a problem with it, and when you have 60 coaches and player calling you names you’re just trying to get out of there. I talked to my principal and athletic director and we’ll take the channels to appeal, but you know how those work. It’ll be next man up.”
On the other side of Sclafani’s outstanding effort was a Brick defense that largely kept Husni in check. Husni entered the game with 891 rushing yards, 994 passing yards and 18 total touchdowns, well on his way to a double 1,000-yard season. His ability to make plays out of the pocket and keep plays alive with his legs has burned teams all year, but the Dragons were able to keep him contained. He finished with 72 yards rushing and a touchdown and 45 yards passing. He completed just four of 14 passes, but was victimized by four drops.
“A lot of credit has to go to coach Mac (defensive coordinator Brian McNamara),” said senior linebacker James Juliano. “He came up with some different coverages we hadn’t shown since the summer, and in the second half they really worked. We had a couple of breakdowns early, but then we tightened things up.”
“The defensive line did a great job keeping him in the pocket, the linebackers did a great job pressuring him and the defensive backs did a great job being able to stay with their guys,” Dahl said. “He makes plays running around, and we limited him tonight. We always had a guy in his face, and keeping him in the pocket was key.”
The Mariners (5-3, 4-3) also played most of the game without the services of standout junior running back Asante Moorer, who was limited by an ankle injury. He had just three first-half carries for seven yards.
Toms River North held a 13-10 halftime lead thanks to a 22-yard touchdown run by Husni on the first drive of the game and a 50-yard touchdown run by Watts late in the half. Brick’s adjustments paid dividends, as it out-scored the Mariners 20-0 in the second half. The key was neutralizing Toms River North standout junior defensive lineman Dashon Copes, whom the Mariners used to show some different looks over the first two quarters.
“He could be one of the best defensive linemen we face all year and that’s the adjustment we had to make,” Sclafani said. “He lined up one way on film and when we came out when was lining up different, so that’s what we had to adjust to at halftime.”
Trailing by three, Brick took the second half kickoff and marched from its own 30 to the Mariners’ 28-yard line, but the drive came to a halt when Sclafani’s pass to senior Ja’Quez Johnson fell short. On Toms River North’s first play after taking over possession, it tried a deep pass down the home sideline. The play was wide open, but the ball was dropped. Instead of a potential touchdown, the Mariners went three-and-out. Brick then drove 59 yards over eight plays to take a 17-13 lead, and the Dragons never looked back from there.
“The momentum turned there,” Dahl said. “It was in our favor and our kids ran with it. At halftime they said there was nothing that was going to stop them from winning the game, and they played like it.”
Following Sclafani’s one-yard touchdown run, his second of the game, to make it 17-13 in favor of Brick, Toms River North went three-and-out again. The Dragons took over just shy of midfield and scored in seven plays to take a 24-13 lead. Sclafani had a 10-yard run and found sophomore receiver Ja’Sir Taylor for 13 yards on third-and-six down to the Mariners’ 33-yard line, and four plays later broke a run to the outside on a 21-yard score.
The Mariners managed a first down on their next drive, but a jet sweep by Watts on fourth-and-2 from midfield was shut down, allowing Brick to take over on downs. Sclafani ripped off a 48-yard run on the next play down to the 2-yard line, and hopped into the end zone on the next play for his fourth touchdown, giving Brick a 30-13 lead.
“I think this game says everything about the kind of guy Carmen is,” Juliano said. “There was a lot of emotion for him and that rippled through the rest of the team. To watch him from the sidelines, I couldn’t be more proud of him. He only came here last year but Carmen is a Brick guy, and he showed it.”
Toms River North started strong on its home field by driving 68 yards on eight plays to take a 7-0 lead on the game’s opening possession. Husni had a 17-yard completion to senior tight end Jordan Craig on third-and-five from North’s 37, and capped the drive with a 22-yard touchdown run down the home sideline.
Watts cut in front of Johnson to intercept Sclafani on the next drive, but the Mariners couldn’t do anything with that possession. Brick got on the board with a 12-play, 66-yard drive that resulted in a 25-yard field goal by KC Stackable on the first play of the second quarter.
Sacks by Dan Finelli and Cory Wilson helped squash Toms River North’s drive and set up Brick to take its first lead. A 31-yard run by Sclafani down to the six-yard line set up his own 1-yard plunge on fourth-and-goal for a 10-7 lead. North responded on the ensuing drive when Watts followed a 20-yard run by Parker Day with a 50-yard touchdown run on a jet sweep for a 13-10 lead.
Since a stunning 28-27 double overtime loss to Wall, Brick has responded with wins of 41-7 over Lacey, 45-7 over Colts Neck and then Friday’s victory over Toms River North to get back on track. The Dragons won’t be perfect this season, but they are still set up to win the division title outright and defend their NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV title.
“We were just about as shocked as anybody about the Wall loss,” Juliano said. “But after the game we said, look, great teams have been tripped up before. We just have to focus and zone in right now. The last three weeks we’ve been focused in and playing to our potential.”
No. 7 Brick 30, Toms River North 13
|Brick||Toms River North|
Brick (7-1, 6-0) 0 10 7 13 – 30
Toms River North (5-3, 4-3) 7 6 0 0 – 13
TRN – Mike Husni 22-yard run (Kyle Bayha kick)
B – KC Stackable 25-yard field goal
B – Carmen Sclafani 1-yard run (KC Stackable kick)
TRN – Bryce Watts 50-yard run (kick failed)
B – Carmen Sclafani 1-yard run (KC Stackable kick)
B – Carmen Sclafani 21-yard run (KC Stackable kick)
B – Carmen Sclafani 2-yard run (kick failed)
Rushing – B: Carmen Sclafani 26-250, Ray Fattaruso 9-44, Ja'Sir Taylor 7-9, Jay Obenauer 3-7; TRN: Mike Husni 17-72, Bryce Watts 4-66, Parker Day 6-31, Asante Moorer 3-7.
Passing – B: Carmen Sclafani 5-12-1 35; TRN: Mike Husni 4-14-0 45.
Receiving – B: Ja'Sir Taylor 2-16, Ray Fattaruso 1-12, Matthew Schliefer 1-6, Ja'Quez Johnson 1-1; TRN: Jordan Craig 1-17, Darrion Carrington 1-12, Tommy Donovan 1-9, Parker Day 1-7.
Interceptions – TRN: Bryce Watts 1-10.
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PRE GAME and FIRST QUARTER