Freehold rallies past Brick Memorial for first 2-0 start since 2014
FREEHOLD – With record-setting quarterback Ashante Worthy having moved on to college, Freehold’s players have had a chip on their shoulder, eager to show their success last season was not only about one player. So far, they’ve proven just that with an unbeaten start inside one of the Shore Conference’s toughest divisions.
The Colonials, ranked No. 9 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10, received key contributions in all three phases to earn a 20-17 Colonial Division victory over Brick Memorial on Saturday afternoon. Senior quarterback Matt Krauss totaled 351 yards of offense, senior Jake Hurler kicked a pair of field goals and the defense forced a pair of turnovers to give Freehold its first 2-0 start since 2014.
“I think people didn’t expect us to be very good,” Hurler said. “They were thinking we lost Ashante and we were going to be garbage.”
“We have a lot of returning seniors from last year and we’re just trying to show we had more than just one player and we can do a lot of great things this year,” Krauss said.
Krauss ran for 172 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries and completed 21 of 28 passes for 167 yards. He also had a 12-yard reception. Hurler had a career-long 40-yard field goal and also connected from 21 yards out. Jaylin Canada and Alex Verardi each had fumble recoveries and Savion Macon had a key pass breakup on the final minute to preserve the victory.
A 27-yard field goal by Ryan McCombs gave Brick Memorial (1-2, 0-2) a 17-12 lead with 1:05 left in the third quarter. Freehold took possession with 9:28 left in the fourth quarter and mounted a 10-play, 75-yard scoring drive to take the lead for good. The key play was Krauss breaking a 34-yard run down to the Brick Memorial 5-yard line on third-and-1, setting up his own 2-yard touchdown run two plays later. He then tossed the 2-point conversion pass to tight end Quincy Davis to give the Colonials a 20-17 advantage.
“Matt has the ability to take over the game and you saw a little bit of that at the end,” said Freehold head coach Dave Ellis.
“It’s very fun playing in this offense, and when you have an offensive line as great as ours, you know late in the game when you need a hole and need 10 yards they’ll do that for you,” Krauss said.
Brick Memorial had 6:09 left on the clock to attempt to drive for the tying or winning points, and found themselves inside the Freehold 20-yard line after a 31-yard reception by Jeff Lavarin. On third and nine from the 19-yard line, Zach Neely batted down a screen pass, and on fourth down Macon was able to get his hands up and break up a pass that Lavarin nearly caught for a touchdown.
“I saw the back coming out and going for a fade,” Macon said. “He had the ball on his hands and I knew I needed to win the game for my team, and I deflected it away.”
“We rep this stuff all week and Savion did his job, he didn’t give up on the play,” Ellis said. “This game could have went either way so I’m just glad we came away with the win.”
Brick Memorial played without senior quarterback Tyler Sindel, who was on the sideline but not in uniform after suffering a facial laceration in Week 1. Junior Anthony Albanese got the start in his place and acquainted himself quite well in his first career start. Piloting the Mustangs’ triple-option offense, Albanese ran for 121 yards on 23 carries and threw for 137 yards and two touchdowns. Jeff Lavarin had a 69-yard touchdown catch and cousin C.J. Lavarin had a 7-yard touchdown reception.
Freehold opened the scoring on Hurler’s 21-yard field goal with 6:19 left in the first quarter. The drive began when Canada recovered a fumble at the Brick Memorial 35-yard line and Krauss was able to convert twice on third down – once on a 9-yard pass to Hurler and another on a 10-yard run – to put Freehold in field goal position.
Brick Memorial answered in the final minute of the opening quarter when Albanese hit Jeff Lavarin with a quick pass up the seam and he out-ran the Freehold defense for a 69-yard touchdown.
Freehold answered with a massive 19-play, 67-yard drive to take a 9-7 lead. Krauss had a 3-yard run to convert a fourth-and-1 at his own 42-yard line, and then later converted a fourth-and-7 with a seven-yard run. Krauss finished off the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run, but the extra point failed when the hold was mishandled and the ball caromed away.
Following a three-and-out by Brick Memorial, Freehold went 62 yards to extend its lead to 12-7. Hurler had a 21-yard catch to move the ball to the Brick Memorial 25-yard line before he connected on a career-long 40-yard field goal.
“It felt pretty good,” Hurler said. “I just kept my head down and kicked it as hard as I could and it went through.”
“Jake a lot of time last year was an unsung hero,” Ellis said. “We didn’t kick a lot of field goals but we knew he had the leg. On the 40-yarder, I didn’t know. He’s hit it dead-on in practice but to hit it from the hash, that was pretty impressive.”
Brick Memorial responded with a 70-yard drive, however, to take a 14-12 lead into halftime. Albanese busted off a 45-yard run to move the ball to the Freehold 25-yard line. After a penalty made it third-and-17, McCombs made a great catch down the visiting sideline to give Brick Memorial first-and-goal at the 2-yard line.
Following a false start, Albanese fired a slant to C.J. Lavarin, who made the catch while lying on his back after the ball initially deflected off his hands.
McCombs’ field goal was the only score Brick Memorial was able to get in the second half, however, as Freehold’s defense did its job to allow the offense to rally for the win.
The Colonials are 2-0, and they’ll take it, but with division games against Brick, Rumson-Fair Haven and St. John Vianney still on the schedule, they know there’s plenty of work to do.
“At the end of the day I’m very happy we’re 2-0, but I just told them if they would listen and execute what we’re trying to do it would make it a lot easier on ourselves,” Ellis said. “Brick was a tough football team and the margin of effort is very small in this (division). This week and last week (22-20 win over Middletown North) could have gone either way and I’m trying to drill that into them.”
No. 8 Freehold 20, Brick Memorial 17
Brick Memorial (1-2, 0-2) 7 7 3 0 – 17
Freehold (2-0, 3-0) 3 9 0 10 – 20
F – Jake Hurler 21-yard field goal
BM – Anthony Albanese 69-yard pass to Jeff Lavarin (Ryan McCombs kick)
F – Matt Krauss 1-yard run (run failed)
F – Jake Hurler 40-yard field goal
BM – Anthony Albanese 7-yard pass to C.J. Lavarin (Ryan McCombs kick)
F – Matt Krauss 2-yard run (Matt Krauss pass to Quincy Davis)
RUSHING – F: Matt Krauss 27-172, Sha’kim Shuler 8-19; BM: Anthony Albanese 23-121, T.J. McArthur 7-43, Ja Billingsley 9-26, Mekhi Irving 1-4, Jeff Lavarin 1-(-5).
PASSING – F: Matt Krauss 21-28-0 167, Sha’kim Shuler 1-1-0 12; BM: Anthony Albanese 4-10-0 137.
RECEIVING – F: Jake Hurler 4-44, Sha’kim Shuler 7-39, Quincy Davis 4-29, Matt Krauss 1-12, Mar-zhon Brinson 3-30, Noah Evans 1-9, Steven Cirillo 1-9, Mekhi Theosmy 1-7; BM: Jeff Lavarin 2-100, Ryan McCombs 1-30, C.J. Lavarin 1-7.
Managing 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.