By Matt Stypulkoski - Shore Sports Network Contributor

HOLMDEL – St. John Vianney used an explosive second half to power past Central Regional, 41-12, on Friday night.

“We saw some things, we talked at halftime,” St. John Vianney coach Mark Ciccotelli said. “But I think we just executed what we do.”

The Lancers, No. 6 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10, struggled in the early going, but went into halftime with a 13-12 lead after a last-second Joseph Rice field goal. Then, on its first two drives of the second half, St. John Vianney broke the game open.

Anthony Brown completed touchdown passes of 12 and 29 yards to cap those possessions and push the Lancers’ lead to 15 points less than eight minutes after the break.

“I think we underestimated them a little bit and it cost us,” Brown said of the slow start. “Then in the second half, we picked everything up.”

Four of St. John Vianney’s second-half drives ended in touchdowns – the two exceptions being a punt forced by Central Regional and a kneel-down to end the game.

Brown, who Ciccotelli called the best quarterback in the Shore Conference, finished the night 17-for-27 for 222 yards and two touchdowns through the air to go with 55 yards rushing on 13 carries. His favorite target, Dan Calabro, caught eight passes, including both touchdowns, for 101 yards.

“I really believe he’s got that [Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel] in him,” Ciccotelli said. “He makes plays, things you can’t teach: extending plays with his feet, scramble drills, finding people getting open. He’s just a real student of the game, a smart kid and a tough kid too.”

Early in the night, Central Regional (1-2) looked as though it would keep pace with the Lancers on the offensive side of the ball.

The Golden Eagles opened the game with 14-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard touchdown run from sophomore Mike Bickford, who finished the night with 144 yards on 23 carries. Their second possession ended with the same result – six points – after a 12-yard pass from Michael Miserendino to Michael Yager.

But that was where the scoring would end for Central, which collected 161 of its 287 total yards during those two scoring drives. Four turnovers – two interceptions by St. John Vianney’s Khalil Haskins and two failed fourth-down attempts – stunted the offense for the remainder of the night.

The slim lead they had built up while in control of the game simply wasn’t enough to hold onto. Despite his team’s struggles, Rice’s booming right leg kept the Lancers close and eventually gave them the lead during the first half with field goals of 41 and 20 yards.

“We fought,” Brown said. “We didn’t break apart as a team, we just had to keep that moving.”

And after sputtering to just 47 yards in the first quarter, the St. John Vianney offense did start moving and produced 277 yards over the final 36 minutes.

Still, though he was happy with his team’s response and late execution, the performance left something to be desired for Ciccotelli.

“If we’re not getting better every day, we’re getting worse. We have a long way to go, really,” he said. “I know when we put the film on, there’s going to be a lot of mistakes. We’ll get back to it tomorrow. We’re 3-0. That’s nice, but this is over now.”

Box Score
St. John Vianney 41, Central Regional 12

.                                 CR             SJV

First downs                 12               18

Rushes-yards          36-221        27-165

Passing                   8-15-1          17-27-2

Passing yards           66                 222

Fumbles-lost            0-0               2-0

Penalties                  4-22             7-45


Central Regional (1-2)  6  6  0 0 – 12

St. John Vianney (3-0)  3 10 14 14 – 41


Scoring summary

CR - Bickford 1-yard run (kick failed.

SJV - Rice 41-yard field goal.

CR - Mike Miserendino 12-yard pass to Tyler Tedeschi (kick failed).

SJV - Aaron Mora 1-yard run (Rice kick).

SJV - Rice 20-yard field goal.

SJV - Brown 12-yard pass to Calabro (Rice kick).

SJV - Brown 29-yard pass to Calabro (Rice kick).

SJV - Tyrique Hall 15-yard run (Rice kick).

SVJ - Calvin Beaty 2-yard run (Rice kick).


Individual statistics

Rushing – CR: Bickford 23-144, Miserendino 7-78, Singleton 4-5, Hardy 1-0, Powell 1-(-6). SJV: Brown 13-55, Mora 7-39, Haskins 4-27, Beaty 2-29, Hall 1-15.

Passing – CR: Miserendino 7-13-1 64, Powell 1-2-0 2. SJV: Brown 17-27-2 222.

Receiving – CR: Hardy 4-38, Yager 2-17, Aires 1-5, Quick 1-6. SJV: Calabro 8-101, Braccia 6-97, Mora 1-7, Haskins 2-17.

Interceptions – SJV: Haskins 2-3.