A Day at the Beach: Red Bank Catholic dominates Timber Creek in Season Opener
OCEAN CITY – In his first game as the starting quarterback for Red Bank Catholic, senior Alex Brown played like he had been there all along.
Poise, field vision, and athleticism were all on display Saturday afternoon at Carey Stadium when Brown completed 16 of 23 passes for 171 yards and a touchdown and also ran for 43 yards and a score to lead a dominant effort by the Caseys that resulted in a 34-0 wipeout of Timber Creek during the Battle at the Beach showcase.
Brown, who was the starting quarterback at Mater Dei Prep the last two seasons and transferred to RBC after the Seraphs dropped their varsity football program, completed passes to seven different receivers, escaped about half a dozen would-be sacks and settled in as the game progressed. The Bucknell commit was slightly off target on a couple of deep shots early in the game but was otherwise flawless running RBC’s offense.
“Every game is a new challenge, every game is a new opponent and you have a little bit of jitters, but when you have a family like that (for a team), it helps a lot,” Brown said.
“He is a very intelligent football player, a quick learner, he takes coaching very well and you can see he’s pretty unflappable in big spots,” said RBC head coach Mike Lange.
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The Caseys’ potent ground was also on display with junior running back Sabino Portella rushing for 138 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries and senior running back Rajahn Cooper rumbling for 54 yards and a touchdown on just four carries. RBC ran for 289 yards.
“For us, we always want to run to win, to be physical,” Lange said. “With those back combinations we can have and to keep fresh legs going, we feel like it will really benefit us going forward.”
Junior wide receiver Najih Rahman led all players with eight receptions for 79 yards and all-state tight end Alex Bauman caught three passes for 41 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, Red Bank Catholic limited Timber Creek quarterback Donovan Leary, who is committed to Illinois, to just 60 yards on 5 of 11 passing. Portella also intercepted him in the first quarter after a hit by junior Aidan Donahue forced an errant pass. Leary did not play in the second half. Timber Creek was also held minus-18 yards rushing.
“We have a lot of different formations on defense so we made sure to mix it up,” Portella said. “That’s one of the better quarterbacks we’re going to see all year so it was a good test for us.”
Red Bank Catholic vs. Timber Creek
After forcing a three-and-out to start the game, RBC went to work on a five-play 68-yard scoring drive to take a 7-0 lead. Cooper broke a 50-yard run down to the 5-yard line and a horse-collar penalty moved the ball to the 2-yard line. He powered in for the score on the next play, his first as a Casey after also coming over from Mater Dei.
Portella’s interception two plays into the next series gave the Caseys the ball at their own 28-yard line (after two penalties during the INT return). Brown and Portella led the drive to the 32-yard line where another long run by Cooper was called back because of a penalty. RBC regrouped, converted a fourth-and-1 at the 18-yard line and was in the end zone two plays later on Portella’s 10-yard scoring run.
A kick return across midfield by Timber Creek had the Chargers in good position to get on the scoreboard but their drive stalled after moving to the 25-yard line. On fourth-and-2, sophomore Luke Wassef got to Leary and dragged him down by the ankle for a sack to force a turnover on downs.
In the second quarter, RBC marched 62 yards in 10 plays to take a 20-0 lead. Corbett Cimini had a 10-yard catch, Rahman had a 13-yard reception, and wide receiver Jailin Haynes took a sweep for 14 yards to help move the ball inside the 20-yard line. Portella capped the drive with a 4-yard touchdown run.
After forcing another punt, RBC got the ball back with 1:26 left in the first half and quickly moved into scoring position. Brown hit Emanuel Ross for 18 yards with a great throw along the sideline while running to his left. Two penalties pushed RBC back but Portella ran for 16 yards, Rahman caught a nine-yard pass and Brown then scrambled for 38 yards after what looked like a certain sack. That put the ball at the Timber Creek 23-yard line where Brown hooked up with Bauman for a touchdown pass with just 14 seconds left in the half.
The Caseys added one more score in the second half before the reserves entered. A long punt return by Ross -- one of two for him on the afternoon – gave the Caseys the ball at the Timber Creek 22-yard line. Three plays later on second-and-goal, Brown scampered in for an 8-yard touchdown and a 34-0 lead.
It was only game No. 1 and the Caseys have some major tests awaiting, including a matchup with top-ranked Wall on Sept. 10, but there is no denying it was a strong performance on Saturday afternoon.
“I think you got a taste of what we can be but we have a lot more coming,” Brown said. “It was an important game to start off. I told everyone we need to send a message to the state.”