Banner Day: Chris Scully breaks school rushing record to lead Colts Neck to Colonial Division title
COLTS NECK – With so much on the line entering Saturday afternoon’s Shore Conference Colonial Division matchup versus Long Branch, Colts Neck and its senior leaders matched the moment to deliver their best performance of the season.
Senior running back Chris Scully ran for 185 yards and four touchdowns and also returned a kickoff 77 yards for a touchdown, becoming the Cougars’ all-time leading rusher in the process and leading No. 11 Colts Neck to a rousing 57-20 victory over No. 12 Long Branch that clinched a share of the Colonial Division championship.
Scully scored on a 10-yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth quarter to pass Anthony Gargiulo as the Cougars' all-time leading rusher. Scully entered the day needing 132 yards to break the previous record of 3,436 yards set in 2013 by Gargiulo, who was a First Team All-Shore selection and went on to become the starting fullback at Navy. Scully then added a 35-yard touchdown run to put Colts Neck up 50-20 and is up to 3,490 yards for his career and 1,372 yards and 20 touchdowns on the season.
With the win, Colts Neck finished tied for the Colonial Division championship with Point Boro. A stunning upset by Manalapan over Point Boro in Week 6 opened the door for a potential division crown and the Cougars (5-3, 4-1) closed the regular season with three straight wins to secure their second straight shared division title.
The victory over Long Branch also solidified Colts Neck’s playoff position in the South Group 4 super section. The Cougars have received the No. 3 seed in the South Jersey Group 4 sectional bracket and will host Toms River South (6-2) in the first round next Saturday.
Colts Neck’s 57 points scored also set a program single-game record, surpassing the previous record of 50 points set in a win over Princeton in 2018 and equaled last season in a victory over Freehold Boro.
“Personally and as a team, I’m going to remember this forever,” Scully said. “It was a really special performance. I always give credit to the guys up front. I couldn’t do anything without them and I think they’re the best O-line in the Shore. The defense did a heck of a job and all around this was one of the most complete games of the season. We want to roll this into the playoffs.”
“It’s a tribute to him, staying healthy, his offensive line, fullbacks, quarterbacks, receivers, and everybody who has blocked for him and what he had done to get to this point,” said Colts Neck head coach Matt Ahearn. “He has more to go and hopefully we have a lot more football to play.”
It was a close game early before Colts Neck scored 21 points in the second quarter to begin to blow the game open. Long Branch senior quarterback Earnest Reevey played without a cast on his throwing hand for the first time since breaking his right hand during a Week 0 win over Piscataway, and broke free for a 51-yard touchdown run on the game’s opening series.
After the teams traded punts, Colts Neck answered when senior quarterback Dom Beninato scrambled after initially dropping the snap and tossed a 29-yard touchdown pass to senior Tesio Carabello, who broke a tackle to shake loose on his way to the end zone.
The Cougars' defense then gave their offense a short field by forcing Long Branch to punt from its own 2-yard line. The ball traveled just 20 yards and led to Scully scoring on a 2-yard run for a 14-7 Colts Neck lead with just over nine minutes left in the first half.
Long Branch responded with a four-play, 76-yard scoring drive that culminated with a 20-yard touchdown run by senior running back Da’Von Craft. Craft also had a 34-yard run on the drive and a late-hit penalty that was issued after Reevey took a quick knee just before being sacked moved the ball to the 20.
It was all Colts Neck from there with the Cougars scoring two more times before the break and then adding 29 points in the second half.
Following Craft’s touchdown run, Scully returned the ensuing kickoff 77 yards for a touchdown to give the Cougars a 21-13 lead. The defense then stopped Long Branch on downs at the Colts Neck 27 with 2:40 left in the half. Ethan Mathieu hauled in a 63-yard reception to the Long Branch 22-yard line, Scully ran it to the 3-yard line on three straight carries, and Beninato flipped a pass to senior running back John Sherrod in the right flat for a three-yard touchdown and a 28-13 halftime lead.
Mathieu returned the second-half kickoff to midfield to set up Colts Neck’s fifth scoring drive. After three runs by Scully and a pass interference call on Long Branch, Colts Neck extended its lead to 35-13 on a 10-yard touchdown run by Scully.
Long Branch continued to fight behind Reevey and Craft and closed the gap to 35-20 with 6:25 left in the third quarter. Reevey hit Aulander Daniels over the middle for 23 yards, Craft rumbled for 19 yards, and then again for 24 yards and a touchdown on third and one.
But there was no stopping Colts Neck’s offense this afternoon, and the Cougars put together another scoring drive to continue to pile on the points. Scully carried nine times and caught one pass on a 12-play, 74-yard scoring drive before capping the drive with a 10-yard touchdown run to break the school’s career rushing record. He then ran in the 2-point conversion for a 43-20 advantage.
Down by 23, Long Branch pulled out all the stops and went for it on fourth and four from its own 36-yard line. Colts Neck stopped Reevey for a one-yard gain and two plays later Scully rushed for a 35-yard touchdown and a 50-20 lead.
A blocked punt by senior Anthony Lombardi was recovered at the 2-yard line and set up the eighth and final touchdown, a 1-yard touchdown plunge by senior Devin Donnelly.
“We did it in every phase,” Ahearn said. “Obviously the offense, special teams had the kick return and the blocked punt, and the defense gave us short fields. Going into the playoffs I’m glad to see us play a complete game.”
Colts Neck entered the season with high expectations but quickly found itself in an 0-2 hole after losses to Point Boro and Red Bank Catholic in Week 0 and Week 1, respectively. The Cougars emerged from their Week 2 bye with a vengeance, blanking district rival Manalapan, 35-0, to start their current 5-1 run to win a division title and return to the playoffs.
“It shows their character,” Ahearn said. “We had the bye week and they made a point to say the season’s not over and we have more football to play, and this is the end result.”
“These guys are very hungry,” Scully said. “The past few years we’ve had good teams, good seasons, but disappointing losses in the playoffs. This year we’re really looking to make a run.”
No. 11 Colts Neck 57, No. 12 Long Branch 20
|Long Branch||Colts Neck|
|Long Branch (4-4, 1-3)||7||6||7||0||20|
|Colts Neck (5-3, 3-1)||7||21||7||22||57|
LB – Earnest Reevey 51-yard run (Wesley Garcia kick)
CN -- Tesio Carabello 29-yard pass from Dom Beninato (Aidan Manasso kick)
CN – Chris Scully 2-yard run (Aidan Manasso kick)
LB – Da’Von Craft 20-yard run (kick blocked)
CN – Chris Scully 77-yard kickoff return (Aidan Manasso kick)
CN – John Sherrod 3-yard pass from Dom Beninato (Aidan Manasso kick)
CN – Chris Scully 10-yard run (Aidan Manasso kick)
LB – Da’Von Craft 24-yard run (Wesley Garcia kick)
CN – Chris Scully 10-yard run (Chris Scully run)
CN – Chris Scully 35-yard run (Aidan Manasso kick)
CN – Devin Donnelly 1-yard run (Brady Tormey kick)
RUSHING – LB: Da’Von Craft 17-108, Earnest Reevey 13-89, Havier Gonzalez 4-11, Korey Castillo 3-7, Mikel Rodriguez 2-6; CN: Chris Scully 29-185, Dom Beninato 3-14, Devin Donnelly 2-3.
PASSING – LB: Earnest Reevey 4-6-0, 54; Aulander Daniels 1-1-0, 14; Quinton Fisher 0-1-0, 0. CN: Dom Beninato 5-7-0, 115.
RECEIVING – LB: Aulander Daniels 1-23, Havier Gonzalez 1-15, Miguel Maldonado 1-14, Nahemiah Lambert 1-14, Da’Von Craft 1-2; CN: Ethan Mathieu 1-63, Tesio Carabello 1-29, Jack Lefkowitz 1-13, Chris Scully 1-7, John Sherrod 1-3.