Football – Point Boro Runs Over Monmouth Regional to Improve to 4-0
With several new starters and a mostly young and inexperienced roster, the early part of the season figured to be an adjustment period for Point Boro. Instead, the Panthers haven’t missed a beat.
Junior quarterback James Fara ran for 146 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries to lead a relentless triple-option ground attack that churned out 405 yards rushing to lead the way in a 42-0 Shore Conference nondivisional victory over host Monmouth Regional on Saturday afternoon. Junior fullback Tanner Gordon finished with 86 yards and a touchdown, senior Hayden Frey had a long touchdown run, junior Jarrett Howey added a late touchdown and junior Brandon Cipriano chipped in with 84 yards on just three carries.
The Panthers’ defense was also stellar in allowing just 83 total yards and forcing five turnovers. Frey and sophomore Kyle Komanitsky had interceptions while senior linebacker Justin Rafi, junior linebacker Ronnie Leyda and senior nose guard Aidan Connolly each had fumble recoveries. After starting 7-0 to begin last season, the Panthers are now 4-0.
“We didn’t come in thinking it was going to be 42-0, but we played very well and this was the result,” Fara said. “It’s run first for us and the running game was working the whole time. They couldn’t stop it.”
The quarterback is always the focal point of the Panthers’ flexbone offense, and Fara had plenty of questions to answer in taking over for two-year starter Noah Husak. He burst onto the scene with a huge game against Pinelands to start the season and hasn’t looked back. He scored on a 29-yard run in the first quarter and added a 69-yard scamper on the first drive of the third quarter. He later added a six-yard touchdown run. His 146 yards Saturday was the most of his young career, and so far this season he had 466 yards and eight touchdowns.
“Fara has been very cool, calm and collected in the huddle and at the line of scrimmage making his reads,” said Point Boro head coach Matt Cilento, who has yet to taste defeat in his first season as a head coach. “He’s a tough kid, and a lot of that comes from his mental ability. He’s mentally tough.”
Getting off to a fast start isn’t a shock, but the success has come quicker than they could have imagined considering the roster overhaul from a year ago.
“Honestly, at the beginning of the season - and this wasn’t good confidence on my part - I did not think we’d come out and be 4-0,” Fara said. “We lost so many seniors, and I thought we’d start slow and then progress through the season. To start 4-0 is huge.”
“We knew what types of kids we had coming back, and they just competed throughout the summer and showed they’re ready to go,” Cilento said. “We’ve been very happy with the effort and the young guys have really stepped up.”
It didn’t take long for Point Boro to grab the lead for good.
Monmouth (2-3) received the opening kickoff, but fumbled the snap on the first play from scrimmage and Rafi recovered at the Falcons’ 35-yard line. On third-and-four, Fara broke free for a 29-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead. Late in the first quarter and again on third down, Frey took a pitch on a wide receiver reverse and turned the corner for a 56-yard touchdown run and a 14-0 advantage.
A tackle for a two-yard loss by senior defensive end Josiah Gliddon on third down forced Monmouth three-and-out, and set the stage for Point Boro’s third touchdown. A 38-yard run by Cipriano put the ball at the Monmouth 7-yard line and set up Gordon’s one-yard plunge two plays later.
Monmouth threatened to score midway through the second quarter when senior quarterback Jay Eustace somehow connected with sophomore Eli Rife for 22 yards down to the Panthers 13-yard line. Eustace was caught in the clutches of a Point Boro defender for what looked like a clear sack, but was able to get the pass off as he was being taken down. The drive short-circuited with a fumble on the next play, however, and Leyda recovered at the 10-yard line.
Monmouth would get the ball back shortly when senior Elijah Walker intercepted Fara and ran it back to the Point Boro 14-yard line. Again the Panthers’ defense would stiffen on a sack by Gordon for an eight-yard loss, and hit for a one-yard loss by senior safety Trevor McNamara and, after a pass interference penalty, a hit for no gain by Rafi on fourth down.
Receiving the kickoff to start the second half, Point Boro put the game away when Fara found a crease up the middle and outran the defense on a 69-yard touchdown run.
“At 21-0, teams come back from that, so we had to keep grinding,” Fara said. “At 28-0 we were comfortable, and at 35-0 we came out of the game.”
A fumble recovery by Connolly at the Monmouth 17-yard line midway through the third quarter set up Fara’s six-yard score to give the Panthers a 35-0 lead and start the running clock. A sack by sophomore defensive end Trent Livolsi on Monmouth’s next drive gave Point Boro’s offense the ball back, and Cipriano’s 31-yard run put the ball at the Falcons’ 21-yard line. Out came the starters, but the second unit didn’t wast the field position as Howey barreled in to the end zone on third-and-goal from the 7-yard line to make it 42-0.
A sack by junior Nate Chiarello and an interception by Komanitsky closed out a nearly flawless performance by Point Boro.
Point Boro 42, Monmouth 0
Point Boro (4-0) 14 7 14 7 — 42
Monmouth (2-3) 0 0 0 0 — 0
James Fara 29-yard run (Nate Chiarello kick)
Hayden Frey 56-yard run (Nate Chiarello kick)
Tanner Gordon 1-yard run (Nate Chiarello kick)
James Fara 69-yard run (Nate Chiarello kick)
James Fara 6-yard run (Nate Chiarello kick)
Jarrett Howey 7-yard run (Nate Chiarello kick)
Rushing — PB: James Fara 14-146, Tanner Gordon 20-86, Brandon Cipriano 3-84, Hayden Frey 1-56, Jarrett Howey 5-22, Garrett Romer 1-9, Kyler Rossi 2-1, Ronnie Leyda 1-1; M: Dayshawn Porter 6-5, Booker Jayhahn 2-3, Jeremiah Clark 3-(-4), Jay Eustace 8-(-5), Nick Alfano 1(-5).
Passing — PB: James Fara 1-3-1 8; M: Jay Eustace 6-10-1 61, Nick Alfano 1-3-1 24, Dayshawn Porter 1-3-0 4.
Receiving — PB: Hayden Frey 1-8; M: Elijah Walker 2-34, Jalen Gates 4-33, Eli Rife 1-22, Booker Jayhahn 1-0.
Interceptions — PB: Hayden Frey 1-0, Kyle Komanitsky 1-15; M: Elijah Walker 1-36.
Football editor Bob Badders can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.