Football – Defense Leads No. 5 Rumson Past Red Bank in Battle of Ridge Road
By Ella Brockway - Student Contributor
LITTLE SILVER — After last week’s 28-3 loss to St. John Vianney, Rumson-Fair Haven (4-2, 4-1) needed a statement win this week to prove its place amongst the top teams in the Shore Conference.
The Bulldogs, ranked No. 5 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10, did just that Friday night with a 24-7 win Shore Conference Class A Central win over Red Bank (2-3, 2-2) in a rematch of last year’s NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III championship game.
Senior quarterback Jack Volker threw for 140 yards and two touchdowns, and senior running back Matt Vecchiarelli finished with 74 rushing yards and a touchdown.
“It’s nice to be back on the winning track,” said head coach Jerry Schulte. “It was tough coming off a loss, but our guys showed a lot of character coming back.”
The Rumson defense, led by senior linebacker Mike Ruane, did not allow a touchdown for the fourth time this season. Red Bank’s lone score came off of a 95-yard kickoff return by Chris Brannagan.
“It was a hard-fought game,” said Ruane. “The first half we played great, the first quarter especially, but the second quarter was a little sloppy.”
The Bulldogs got off to a quick start in the first quarter, scoring on just their second offensive play of the game. Volker, filling in for sidelined senior quarterback Michael O’Connor (turf toe), threw a 69-yard pass to wide receiver Trevor Caruso to give the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead four minutes into the game.
Less than a minute later, Ruane recovered a Red Bank fumble at the Rumson 10-yard line, setting up another touchdown on a six-yard pass from Volker to senior wide receiver Tyler Pierson three plays later.
“(Volker) filled in nicely,” said Schulte. “He gives us some things that we feel very comfortable with, and he did a really nice job.”
An interception by James Melia off of a pass from Red Bank junior quarterback Stephen Navitsky 13 seconds into the second quarter stopped the Bucs’ initial advances. Navitsky finished with 38 passing yards on two completions, both to senior wide receiver Danny Wagner.
Red Bank controlled possession of the ball for 8:32 of the second quarter, but the Bucs were unable to push into the red zone at all during that time because of the Rumson defense.
The Bulldogs opened the third quarter with a six-yard touchdown run from Matt Vecchiarelli.
“He just runs as hard as he can, every play he can,” said Schulte of Vecchiarelli, who had a team-high 20 carries on the night. “His attitude is, ‘This is the last time I’m ever going to be able to carry the ball,’ and he makes every second count.”
The Bucs immediately responded with a touchdown of their own, off of Brannagan’s 95-yard kickoff return.
Rumson’s final score came on a 30-yard field goal from Thomas Chapin.
Rumson has won all six of the last meetings of the Ridge Road rivals.
“This is a big rivalry, the Battle of Ridge Road,” said Schulte. “We were pleased with the whole thing, except for a few errors we have to take care of.”
Red Bank will travel to play crosstown rival Red Bank Catholic next Friday in a rematch of last year’s epic 24-21 upset win, while the Bulldogs will face Monmouth Regional next Saturday afternoon.
“We’re on the right track, but we just need to get a little bit better every week,” said Ruane. “But we still run Ridge Road, and we showed that tonight.”
Rumson - Matt Vecchiarelli: 20-74, Jack Volker: 3-(-7), Emmett Jennings: 1-6, Gavin Pomphrey: 2-22, Peter Lucas: 1-5 Total: 100 yards
Red Bank - Chris Brannagan: 7-104, Tyrese Morris: 10-19, Chris Outterbridge: 2-5, Makai Mickens: 3-7, Ka’Shaun Turner: 2-5, Noah Mickens: 2-2 Total: 142 yards
Rumson - Jack Volker: 4-6-0-140 Total: 140 yards
Red Bank - Stephen Navitsky: 2-6-1-38 Total: 38 yards
Rumson - Trevor Caruso: 1-69, Tyler Pierson: 1-6, Emmett Jennings: 1-39, Matt Vecchiarelli: 1-26 Total: 113 yards
Red Bank - Danny Wagner: 2-38 Total: 38
Tackles (top three)
Rumson - Chase Pfrang: 6, Mike Ruane: 4, Stephen Edler: 2
Red Bank - Chris Outterbridge: 4, Tyrese Morris: 3, Quran Malloy: 3
Rumson - James Melia: 1-2
1Q: Rumson - Jack Volker 69-yard pass to Trevor Caruso (Thomas Chapin kick)
1Q: Rumson - Jack Volker 6-yard pass to Tyler Pierson (Thomas Chapin kick)
3Q: Rumson - Matt Vecchiarelli 6-yard run (Thomas Chapin kick)
3Q: Red Bank - Chris Brannagan 95-yard kick return (Joe Flynn kick)
4Q: Rumson - Thomas Chapin 30-yard field goal