BRICK — With several returning starters from last year’s state sectional championship team, including an offense that on paper has limitless potential, Brick Township was an easy team to peg as a force to be reckoned with. The on-field confirmation for the Shore Conference’s No. 2 team came on Saturday afternoon.

In front of a capacity and raucous crowd at Brick Memorial, the defending NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV champion Dragons dominated on both sides of the ball in blanking the Mustangs 42-0 in a Shore Conference Class A South game that served as the season-opener for both teams. Senior quarterback Carmen Sclafani threw for 157 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 148 yards and one touchdown to pace a balanced and lethal Dragons’ attack.

Not to be outdone was Brick’s defense, which held Brick Memorial (0-1, 0-1) to just 92 yards of total offense and six first downs, while scoring two defensive touchdowns on fumble returns, in recording the program’s first shutout since 2011. The high expectations for the Dragons (1-0, 1-0) were certainly justified Saturday.

“We were itching to play this game,” Sclafani said. “We really calmed down in the second half and everything started to click better. I do think we expected to play this well, though. The coaches had us prepared well enough that this is what we expect.”

“It’s a great feeling,” Fattaruso said. “Beating Brick Memorial, you can’t beat that feeling at all.”

A back-and-forth first half that featured some key defensive stops by both teams started to swing the Dragons’ way as halftime loomed. Brick took over at its own 19-yard line for a drive starting with 5:03 left until halftime, and proceeded to go 81 yards in eight plays to take a 7-0 lead into the break. After some modest gains on earlier drives, Sclafani finally broke through with runs of 27 and 19 yards to set up an 11-yard touchdown pass to senior tight end Simon Bingelis with 1:18 left.

“We went into the half definitely not happy because we felt we were still giving (Brick Memorial) life, and they were right on top of us,” said Brick head coach Rob Dahl. “But in the second half the kids executed a lot better.”

“We really wanted to have more than a seven-point lead at halftime,” Sclafani said.  “We came out in the second half with the mentality we were down 21, and I think that’s why we started playing so well.”

Brick extended its lead to 14-0 on the first drive of the second half, a six-play, 69-yard march that took just under three minutes. This time it was Fattaruso with runs of 12 and 15 yards to get the ball into Mustangs territory, setting up a 21-yard touchdown run by Sclafani up the middle.

Brick’s defense would allow just two first downs the rest of the game, giving its offense more time to showcase all its weapons. After Sclafani was hit and fumbled at the Brick Memorial 26-yard line on Brick’s next drive, the defense forced a quick three-and-out to put the ball right back into Sclafani’s hands. He connected with senior wide receiver Ja’Quez Johnson for 12 yards on third-and-6, and on the next play fired a deep pass to senior Joe Phillips for a 42-yard touchdown and a 21-0 lead with 1:53 left in the third quarter.

“There’s no catching Joe when he gets behind somebody,” Sclafani said. “We dumped the ball in the flat four or five times and that was enough to get the corner to start to bite. We knew we were going to hit (Joe for a touchdown).”

“If it’s just Carmen and Ray like last year you can key in on our offense,” Dahl said. “But this year we have all these weapons all over the field. Last year we were more one-dimensional. On third-and-long we would have a hard time moving the chains. Now that we can throw the ball and we’re able to spread it around, we’re more confident. We really worked hard to getting our passing game where it needs to be, and it’s paid off.”

A combo sack by Fattaruso and senior Chris Kimbiz, who transferred from Brick Memorial after last season, stopped the Mustangs' next possession and gave Brick the ball again starting at its own 15-yard line. Sclafani, Fattaruso and sophomore Jay Obenauer each had runs of 10 yards or more on the drive, including a 20-yard blast by Fattaruso in which he spun out of a tackle in the secondary. That run put Brick at the three-yard line and set up Fattaruso’s short touchdown run for a 28-0 lead with 9:04 left in the game.

Brick would then tack on a pair of defensive touchdowns in a span of three plays to officially blow the game open and start a running clock. First it was Johnson returning a fumble caused by senior defensive back Matt Gerrity 30 yards for a touchdown, giving the Dragons a 35-0 advantage.

After a pass interference penalty moved Brick Memorial to the Dragons’ 40-yard line on its next possession, Fattaruso scooped up a fumble at midfield and returned it all the way for the score.

When the final seconds ticked off the clock Brick had controlled nearly every facet of the game. The Dragons ran for 246 yards, passed for 157 more and spread the ball to nine different players in the process. Their defense held Brick Memorial under 100 total yards and scored twice. Brick had nearly as many fumble return yards (80) as the Mustangs had total offense.

“Our whole offense gives defenses something to worry about,” Sclafani said. “Our running backs are catching passes and our receivers are running the ball and our quarterback is doing both. It’s a very dynamic offense."

“And our defense definitely deserved that shutout,” Sclafani continued. “Tell me you’ve seen another defense better than that in the past two days. Who had more tackles in the backfield than our defense did?”

Brick was predictably fired up after crushing its biggest rival. The win gave the Dragons much more than bragging rights, though.

With all the praises being sung about Brick during the offseason, Saturday’s win was confirmation of the potential they have to accomplish the ultimate goal of being undefeated state champions. With an offense that can score in a variety of ways and a defense that can shut a team down and score points on its own, Brick certainly appears to be the real deal.

 

 

Box Score

No. 2 Brick 42, Brick Memorial 0

 

BrickBrick Memorial
First downs196
Rushes-yards35-24628-50
Passing12-15-03-14-0
Passing yards15742
Fumbles-lost3-24-2
Penalties-yards6-553-20

 

Brick (1-0, 1-0) 0 7 14 21 – 42

Brick Memorial (0-1, 0-1) 0 0 0 0 – 0

 

Scoring summary

Sclafani 11-yard pass to Bingelis (Stackable kick)

Sclafani 22-yard run (Stackable kick)

Sclafani 42-yard pass to Phillips (Stackable kick)

Fattaruso 3-yard run (Stackable kick)

Johnson 30-yard fumble return (Stackable kick)

Fattaruso 50-yard rumble return (Stackable kick)

 

Individual statistics

Rushing – BT: Sclafani 18-148, Fattaruso 11-64, Obenauer 4-23, Taylor 2-11; BM: Owen 11-39, Santiago 6-11, Hans 4-4, Cathey 4-1, Lavarin 2-0, Louhier 1-(-5).

Passing – BT: Sclafani 12-15-0 157; BM: Santiago 3-10-0 42, Hans 0-4-0 0.

Receiving – BT: Fattaruso 3-48, Phillips 1-42, Johnson 2-22, Joe Sclafani 3-16, Taylor 2-18, Bingelis 1-11; BM: Kumm 2-40, Cathey 1-2.