MIDDLETOWN — With the game on the line in a crucial divisional showdown, Shore Regional boldly showed how much confidence it has in its running game.

It seemed Mater Dei Prep had gotten the stop it needed to give its offense one more opportunity to tie the score. Shore was stuffed on third down and was now facing fourth-and-inches from its own 25-yard line with 2:01 left in the game.

Instead of punting and relying on their defense to close out a victory, the Blue Devils sent out their offense and converted on a 9-yard run by junior Doug Goldsmith to seal a key 14-8 Shore Conference Class B Central victory on Saturday afternoon at Bulman Stadium.

“Coach Cos (head coach Mark Costantino) was asking us if we wanted to go for it and we all want to go for it,” Goldsmith said. “We knew we were getting it. We were driving the whole game and barely had any negative plays. In our minds we knew we’d get it easily.”

“Cos got us together in the timeout and asked us if we wanted to go for it, and it was 100 percent yes,” said senior two-way lineman James Bedell. “We knew we were going to get it. We ran it behind our big tackle Steve Fiumefreddo and Doug broke through and that won the game for us.”

Shore (4-1, 3-0) remains undefeated in B Central to set up a Halloween clash with Point Beach, which is also 3-0. The Blue Devils play host to South River next week while the Garnet Gulls take on Highland Park at home.

Shore’s defense was playing well against Mater Dei’s high-octane offense led by quarterback Christian Palmer, but the Seraphs’ big-play capability still worried Costantino. The best way to eliminate any doubt was to make sure they never got the ball back, and he put it on his offense to deliver.

“Whether we give it to them at the 25 or the 50 they’re going to be throwing it, and they’re scary with their athletes,” Costantino said. “I didn’t want to give them the ball back, I could smell it. So you know what? Let’s go for it. That sends a message we’re going for it this year."

Having Goldsmith back in the lineup certainly helped make the decision a little easier for Shore. The junior standout running back and linebacker played in his first game of the season after recovering from a preseason knee injury to run for a game-high 141 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries He was also a force on defense to help the Blue Devils keep Palmer from running wild.

“I was anxious to get back on the field,” Goldsmith said. “We had a hard loss to Dunellen (16-7) I think we could have won if we were at full strength , so coming back and getting the (win) is all that matters.”

“Having Doug coming back full strength takes pressure off the other backs,” Bedell said. “He had some great runs, scored both touchdowns and had the big run at the end of the game.”

Mater Dei (4-2, 3-1) entered the game averaging 40 points per game behind Palmer, who last week accounted for 345 total yards and six touchdowns. Palmer finished with 122 yards rushing on 17 carries and threw for 133 yards on 9-of-18 passing with one interception, and was kept out of the end zone. He did run for a 2-point conversion after Tysaun White’s 11-yard touchdown run gave the Seraphs an 8-0 lead in the first quarter.

“The key to defending him was making sure our secondary stayed covering their receivers (when he scrambled) and for our defensive line to get pressure,” Bedell said. “When he scrambled we had to get him down and not let him get any extra yards. Everything runs through him. Their receivers are great but without No. 7 they can’t do anything.”

"We had me spying on him in case he scrambled,” Goldsmith said. “The defensive (line) was getting great pressure and our corners stopped the long ball, which they have been getting on most teams.”

“The main thing was to team-tackle,” Costantino said. “He’s going to make plays and he did. The few times we lost contain he killed us. When he’s in trouble, we’re in trouble.”

Palmer accounted for all but 11 of Mater Dei’s 266 total yards. Sophomore Eddie Lewis had six receptions for 44 yards, and White had a 50-yard catch on the game’s opening drive that set up his touchdown run. Mater Dei really hurt itself with both the volume of penalties it committed and the timing of those. The Seraphs were flagged 12 times for 90 yards, and had a 28-yard passing play wiped out late in the game on an illegal motion penalty.

Palmer and Mater Dei showed off their explosive potential on the first two drives of the game to take an 8-0 lead. A 34-yard run by Palmer helped the Seraphs move to the Blue Devils’ 23-yard line before the drive stalled. After forcing Shore three-and-out, the Seraphs started an 8-play, 79-yard drive to strike first. Palmer connected with White for a 50-yard pass on third-and-7 from the 37, and two plays later White scored on an 11-yard jet sweep. Palmer ran in the two-point conversion.

 

Shore answered on its next drive, an 8-play, 58-yard drive where Goldsmith broke a 31-yard run to eventually set up his own 3-yard plunge that cut Mater Dei’s lead to 8-6. Junior George Notte, who was kicking in place of injured standout Jake Monteiro (shoulder), converted the extra point to bring the Blue Devils to within one.

An interception and 27-yard return by Shore sophomore Matt Pennell on the next series gave the Blue Devils the ball at the Seraphs 42-yard line with 6:37 to play in the first half. Goldsmith converted three first downs on the drive with a pair of third-down runs and a 10-yard catch on a screen pass on third-and-7 from the Mater Dei 27. He finished off the 11-play drive with another 3-yard touchdown. Notte’s extra point put Shore up 14-8.

Mater Dei drove to Shore’s 38-yard line on its final possession of the first half, but a sack for a 15-yard loss by junior linebacker Devin McLaughlin ended the threat. Mater Dei had a long drive early in the third quarter in which Palmer moved the Seraphs from their own 17 down to Shore’s 25, but three penalties for 30 yards killed the drive and kept Mater Dei from putting any points on the board.

Mater Dei would have just two possessions the rest of the game, and would gain only one first down - on a penalty. The return of Goldsmith and its offensive and defensive lines winning the battle at the line of scrimmage - along with a gutsy call -  was enough for Shore to hang on for a critical victory.

“This really gives the defense so much confidence to hold a team that scored 38 on Dunellen and 54 on South River to just eight points,” Goldsmith said. “It gives us confidence we can do that against most teams.”

Box Score

Shore Regional 14, Mater Dei Prep 8

 

ShoreMater Dei
First downs1311
Rushes-yards45-19529-133
Passing2-6-19-18-1
Passing yards18133
Fumbles-lost0-00-0
Penalties-yards4-4012-90

 

Shore Regional (4-1, 3-0) 0 14 0 0 – 14

Mater Dei Prep (4-2, 3-1) 8 0 0 0 – 8

 

Scoring summary

MDP – Tysaun White 11-yard run (Christian Palmer run)

SR – Doug Goldsmith 3-yard run (George Notte kick)

SR – Doug Goldsmith 3-yard run (George Notte kick)

 

Individual statistics

Rushing – SR: Doug Golsdsmith 25-141, Kyle Masica 8-33, Mike Moore 5-18, Alex Johnson 4-3, Ryan Campi 1-2, Tyreek McCain 2-(-2); MDP: Christian Palmer 17-122, Tyson Stamper 6-7, Tysaun White 6-4.

Passing – SR: Ryan Campi 2-6-1 18; MDP: Christian Palmer 9-18-1 133.

Receiving – SR: Doug Goldsmith 2-18; MDP: Tysaun White 1-50, Eddie Lewis 6-44, Tyson Stamper 2-39.

Interceptions – SR: Matt Pennell 1-22; MDP: Vincenzo Mezzacappa 1-10.