Football – St. John Vianney Wins Battle of Holmdel
HOLMDEL - Facing a run-heavy Holmdel team that was fired up to go after its first win over its crosstown rival in 10 years and fourth in a row to open the season, the St. John Vianney football team knew exactly what it was up against.
The Lancers, meanwhile, weren't so predictable. Two weeks after losing at home to Raritan and with Holmdel primed for a big rivalry win on the road, St. John Vianney delivered long, touchdown-scoring plays in all three phases of the game to highlight a 24-7 win over the Hornets.
"They get slept on," St. John Vianney senior receiver and defensive back Josh East said. "Maybe it's because they're not that big of a school but they play hard and they play as a team. That's what we're about and we knew that's what we had to be about."
"The last time we were on this field, we lost to Raritan two weeks ago and our kids were not happy with that performance," St. John Vianney first-year head coach Mike Alberque said. "Practices this week were crisp - the best practices we have had all year - and they did a dynamite job."
East scored the lone offensive touchdown by St. John Vianney in the game - an 83-yard catch-and-run in which sophomore quarterback Antonio Rosato hit his receiver on a comeback route and East blew by his defender and up the right sideline for the score.
Prior to East extending St. John Vianney's lead to 14-0 in the middle of the second quarter, senior Timothy Crudup broke a scoreless game early in the first quarter by fielding a punt, knifing through the Holmdel coverage team and racing 82 yards to the endzone for a 7-0 lead with junior Mason Shenk's extra-point.
Early in the third quarter, Rosato hit East for a 29-yard pass down to the Holmdel eight yard-line and Crudup carried the ball down to the one with a seven-yard run. Rosato then ran his team up to the line and tried to sneak into the endzone, but the move backfired when Holmdel stopped him for a three-yard loss.
Shenk kicked a 21-yard field goal to make the score 17-0 with 6:53 to go in the third quarter and Holmdel appeared to derive some momentum from holding St. John Vianney to a field goal. On the second play of his team's ensuing drive, junior Jaden Gallo ripped off an 86-yard touchdown run to break up the Lancers shutout and cut the deficit to 17-7.
On the next St. John Vianney drive, the Lancers negated a 15-yard run by Rosato with a 15-yard personal foul penalty and lost 23 more yards on a pair of sacks before punting the ball back to Holmdel.
Following the punt, Holmdel started the drive on the 50 yard-line but stalled out when its line moved early on a 4th-and-5. Instead of keeping the offense on the field to go for a first down on 4th-and-10, the Hornets opted to punt the ball back to Vianney.
St. John Vianney made a bid to put the game away when Rosato hit senior Julian Young for 33 yards on 3rd-and-8 and the Lancers later needed just one yard on 4th-and-1 from the Hornets 25. Holmdel's defense, however, stopped Crudup on a fourth-down carry to get the offense the ball back.
Once again, Holmdel's drive stalled out, this time after senior Blake Clayton dropped Gallo for a five-yard loss on first down. Holmdel punted the ball back to St. John Vianney and once more, the Hornets held by turning the Lancers over on downs to get the ball back on their own 28.
On the first play, Holmdel put the ball in the air with backup quarterback Jared Battaglia. St. John Vianney junior Troy Dey jumped the rout for an interception and rumbled 42 yards for a touchdown that effectively put the game away.
Dey was playing free safety with starter Kyle Verriest out after sustaining a first-quarter injury - one of three Lancers starters to leave the game with injuries in the first quarter. Running backs Pete Pezzullo and Joey Abarno - the latter of whom is also a starting inside linebacker - also left with injuries.
"We lost all those guys just in the first quarter," Alberque said. "Kudos to the backups for stepping in and stepping up. That's what it's all about."
The two teams were polar opposites of one another in most facets of the game, with Holmdel racking up 287 yards of rushing offense to only 30 yards by St. John Vianney's depleted backfield. Gallo accounted for 158 yards while quarterback Christian Donnelly ran for 92 on 13 carries.
The Lancers made up most of the difference in the passing game, with Rosato completing 9-of-14 passes for 202 yards and East grabbing four catches for 133 yards. Holmdel, meanwhile, used three different passers to go 1-for-6 for five yards and an interception.
St. John Vianney also protected the ball while Holmdel coughed up three lost fumbles to go with the Dey interception.
Since losing to Raritan, 24-21, in Week 2, St. John Vianney has responded with convincing wins over Matawan and Holmdel and is now one win away from matching its 2019 win total.
"The past two or three years haven't felt like us," East said. "They were almost like rebuilding teams. Now, all it is is up from here."
St. John Vianney 24, Holmdel 7
|St. John Vianney (3-1)||0||14||3||7||24|
SJV - Timothy Crudup 82-yard punt return (Mason Shenk kick)
SJV - Josh East 83-yard pass from Antonio Rosato (Mason Shenk kick)
SJV - Mason Shenk 21-yard field goal
H - Jaden Gallo 86-yard run (Connor Mendini kick)
SJV - Troy Dey 42-yard interception return (Mason Shenk kick)
Rushing - H: Jaden Gallo 20-158, Christian Donnelly 13-95, A.J. DeCicco 12-29, Mac Rainess 1-4, Jared Battaglia 1-1; SJV: Timothy Crudup 8-36, Pete Pezzullo 5-12, Blake Clayton 1-1, Antonio Rosato 10-(-19)
Passing - H: Christian Donnelly 1-4-0 5, Mac Rainess 0-1-0 0, Jared Battaglia 0-1-1 0; SJV: Antonio Rosato 9-14-0 202
Receiving - H: Jaden Gallo 1-5; SJV: Josh East 4-137, Julian Young 2-59, Isaac Montalvo 1-5, Joey Abarno 1-1, Timothy Crudup 1-0
Interceptions-Return Yards - SJV: Troy Dey 1-42