HOLMDEL - As he reflects back on it now, last season was not a fun one for St. John Vianney senior quarterback C.J. Duell and that sentiment is mostly universal among his current Lancers teammates who were part of the 2018 team that finished 5-5.

Duell had to sit four games and when he was finally eligible to play, the Lancers never quite gelled into the fine-tuned machine that rolled up 38 straight wins vs. Shore Conference competition.

In Friday night's season-opener against Middletown South - the No. 10 team in the Shore Sports Network Top 10 - the machine was back up and running.

Duell completed 15-of-20 passes for 174 yards and a touchdown and ran for 15 and a score to lead a balanced Lancers offense while the defense turned in a dominant first three quarters in a 35-7 St. John Vianney win.

"Tonight was a special night," Duell said. "Everybody was on the same page, everybody had the same goal. Everyone was a full-go this year from day one. We have a lot of seniors, a lot of weapons and when we are going 100 miles-an-hour, we are pretty dangerous."

"We are clicking on all cylinders," sophomore receiver Jayden Bellamy said. "Last year, there wasn't that excitement like there is this year."

Senior running back Kavon Chambers, meanwhile, caught, ran and passed his way to 167 yards of total offense. He rumbled for 69 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries, caught three passes for 63 yards and connected with Bellamy for a 35-yard halfback pass.

Bellamy turned in a big day as well, grabbing five passes for 124 yards on offense, including a touchdown, and picked off a pass on defense.

Bellamy caught passes from three different passers - Duell, Chambers and freshman Antonio Rosato. The freshman quarterback took a backwards pass from Duell and fired a deep ball to Bellamy, who took it the rest of the way for a 56-yard touchdown to put the Lancers ahead, 21-0, on their first offensive play of the third quarter.

"We try to use all of our players to the best of their ability," Bellamy said. "We know (Rosato) is very good, we just happen to have a senior who is very good. We thought we could throw in a trick play to make him look like a running back."

Rosato also finished with 40 yards on the ground, most of which came on his 38-yard touchdown run that capped the scoring with 3:30 left in the game.

Senior receiver Josh East played a key role in the first half by helping Vianney finish off its first scoring drive. East caught a six-yard pass from Duell on a 4th-and-3 from the Middletown South 30 yard-line and on the next play, pulled in a 24-yard touchdown pass from his quarterback to open the scoring.

East finished with five catches for 51 yards, including four for 40 during the first half.

"He is a special kid and a special player," Duell said of East. "I know I just have to get the ball out and get it in his hands because he is a guy that can always make something happen. He is definitely a guy I look to on third downs and whenever we need to make a play. But we have kids all over this offense. We can get it to anyone, I don't have to play favorites."

St. John Vianney moved the ball on its first two possessions but came up empty each time. Duell and Chambers marched the Lancers down to the Eagles nine on the game's first drive but a holding penalty followed by an interception by senior Matt Krellin ended the threat.

On the first play of Vianney's next drive, Chambers hit Bellamy for a 35-yard bomb to set St. John Vianney up at Middletown South's 35, but Vianney's was called for a hold and took a sack on the next two plays to set up a 2nd-and-34 that the Lancers could not pick up.

East's touchdown got the ball rolling and Chambers sparked the second scoring drive with his two longest catches - the first a 33-yarder over the middle and the second for 22 yards up the right side to set Vianney up with a 1st-and-goal from the Middletown South three yard-line. He also started the 82-yard drive with a 20-yard run.

Duell capped the second touchdown drive by diving over the line for a one-yard touchdown run.

The Lancers scored the dagger late in the third quarter, set up by a one-handed catch by Bellamy that brought Vianney down to the one yard-line. Bellamy appeared to lose control of the ball as he went to the ground, but the referee's view was obstructed by Bellamy's body.

St. John Vianney took advantage by scoring on the next play, with Chambers plowing for the final yard for his first and only touchdown of the game.

Middletown South got on the board early in the fourth quarter when senior Chris Lotito broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage and dashed 34 yards to the end zone to pull the Eagles within 28-7.

St. John Vianney's defense overwhelmed Middletown South in the first half, limiting the Eagles to 53 yards, three first downs and zero points.

Senior Gage Molleman was particularly dominant. The Lancers defensive tackle, who missed all of last season with a knee injury, picked up a sack and two more tackles for a loss in his first action as a varsity starter.

Junior Naron Alston also added an interception for the St. John Vianney defense.

The Lancers will continue their through grueling schedule with a road game at Brick next week, followed by a home showdown with No. 1 Mater Dei Prep on Sept. 27. St. John Vianney might be a team just appearing on the radar for a top spot in the Shore Conference but the Lancers players have considered themselves contenders all along.

"We have something to prove to ourselves and nobody else," Duell said. "We just failed ourselves last year. We're not worried about what people think. We know the work we put in in the offseason and we're looking to show it."


Box Score

St. John Vianney 35, Middletown South 7

Midd SouthSJV
First Downs1118
Passing Yards41265


Midd South (0-2)00077
SJV (1-0)01414735


Scoring Summary

SJV - Josh East 24-yard pass from C.J. Duell (Mason Shenk kick)

SJV - C.J. Duell 1-yard run (Mason Shenk kick)

SJV - Jayden Bellamy 56-yard pass from Antonio Rosato (Mason Shenk kick)

SJV - Kavon Chambers 1-yard run (Mason Shenk kick)

MS - Chris Lotito 34-yard run (Mike D'Amato kick)

SJV - Antonio Rosato 38-yard run (Mason Shenk kick)


Individual Statistics

Rushing - SJV: Kavon Chambers 15-69, Antonio Rosato 4-40, C.J. Duell 5-15, Josh East 1-0; MS: Chris Lotito 5-69, Vinny Condito 8-33, Tyler Cuccia 8-19, Vincent Bonavita 5-1, Austin Ruziecki 1-1, Luke Albrecht 1-(-2)

Passing - SJV: C.J. Duell 15-20-1 174, Antonio Rosato 1-2-0 56, Kavon 1-1-0 35; MS: Vincent Bonavita 4-8-1 41, Tyler Cuccia 0-1-1 0

Receiving - SJV: Jayden Bellamy 5-124, Kavon Chambers 3-63, Josh East 5-51, Kyle Veriest 1-10, Warren Griffith 1-6, Zarrin Stephens 1-6, Julian Young 1-5; MS: Luke Burbank 1-22, Matt Krellin 1-16, Chris Lotito 2-3

Interceptions-Return Yards - SJV: Naron Alston 1-43, Jayden Bellamy 1-23; MS: Matt Krellin 1-24


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