Josh Dixon Explodes for 282 Yards, 5 TDs to Keep Freehold Boro Unbeaten
By Scott Clayton - Shore Sports Network contributor
WALL – Everyone likes a good fairy tale story. Unless, of course, you are the one tasked with informing Cinderella that it is about to strike midnight.
Senior tailback Josh Dixon rushed for a career-high 282 yards and five touchdowns as the beat went on for No. 9 Freehold in a 33-16 nondivisional win over last week’s darlings, Wall, which had snapped an 11-game losing streak in stunning then-No. 2 Brick in double overtime, 28-27, on Oct. 10.
“First and foremost, that was a huge win over Brick for them,” Freehold coach Dave Ellis said. “We told our kids that they’d be looking to knock us off, too, and try to make a run at the playoffs. They are a good football team and they’re getting better every week.”
Freehold (6-0) managed to solidify its own standing in what will surely be an intriguing Central Jersey Group IV bracket for Shore Conference football fans. Brick, Jackson Memorial and Middletown South are all expected to join Freehold in the playoff field, with Jackson Liberty and Middletown North also in the hunt for berths.
Wall (1-5) held the ball for much of the first half, putting together three lengthy drives and more than doubling Freehold in time of possession, but trailed 14-10 at the break. However, with a late second-quarter touchdown from junior quarterback Matt Cluley to Paul Callamaras, followed by a stop of the Colonials' ensuing drive and what appeared to be a hobbled Dixon, the Crimson Knights looked to have seized momentum heading into the locker room.
Dixon shook off a left leg injury sustained on a tackle by Cluley at the end of a 31-yard, second-quarter run to combine with the efforts of his team’s defense to take over the game after halftime. Freehold forced turnovers on three of Wall’s first four possessions of the second half and scored three Dixon touchdowns for a 33-10 lead.
“I wanted to get Josh going tonight,” said Ellis. “We had some guys on the O-line that weren’t 100 percent, but they battled. I knew if he could take over the game that we’d have a good chance of winning.”
Freshman Ashante Worthy recovered a Cluley fumble near midfield on the third quarter’s first possession. Two plays later, Dixon took a last-second option pitch from quarterback Jake Curry up the left sideline for a 49-yard score and a 21-10 lead.
“That was a new play we did this week,” Dixon said. “To be honest, Jake’s a good quarterback and good runner, and I thought he was just going to take it. But the ball made it to my hands and I just took off.”
“They had the play defended well,” Curry said. “I saw a guy covering (Dixon), but when the kid came up to tackle me the other kid stopped and I was able to get it out to Josh.”
After forcing Wall to punt, Freehold rode its workhorse on the next drive. Dixon carried the ball eight straight times to finish off an 11-play, 71-yard drive, barreling over a Wall defender on his way to a 6-yard touchdown run. Freehold finished with 340 yards of rushing offense on 40 carries.
“Josh Dixon did us in tonight,” said Wall coach Dan Curcione. “He played a fantastic game. He’s an awesome player. I’m going to throw this on the defense. I coach the defense and it’s got to be better coached. I’ve got to do a better job preparing them, and we’ve got to do a better job tackling.”
Dixon’s final scoring run of the night will go down as a 1-yard score, but was as exciting as a 1-yard touchdown can be. After picking up a fumbled exchange and finding himself at the 15-yard line, Dixon eluded tacklers along the right sideline to reach the end zone. The short scoring drive was set up by a 65-yard interception return to the Wall 7-yard line by Jamel Smith-Rush, one of two second-half picks for the Colonials.
“We just had to mix up our coverages,” Ellis said. “That quarterback is able to extend plays.”
“Matt Cluley is a hell of a player,” said Curry, who also leveled some big hits on Wall receivers from his position in the secondary. “He gave us some tough looks and it felt like we had to cover our men for 10 seconds because he was able to avoid the rush and get out of the pocket.”
Cluley finished the game 21 of 30 with two touchdowns to match the two interceptions. Wall completed the scoring on the night with Liam Ferguson hauling in a 4-yard pass with 4:32 to play.
Ferguson appeared to have made a touchdown grab on the second play of the second quarter, but Wall was ruled to have an illegal lineman downfield. Rather than take a 10-7 lead, the Knights turned the ball over on downs. Three minutes later, Dixon’s 12-yard run made it 14-3 in favor of the Colonials.
Freehold 33, Wall 16
Freehold (6-0) 7 7 13 6 - 33
Wall (1-5) 3 7 0 6 - 16
W – Maciejewski 22 FG
F – Dixon 60 run (Curcio kick)
F – Dixon 12 run (Curcio kick)
W – Callamaras 1 pass from Cluley (Maciejewski kick)
F – Dixon 49 run (Curcio kick)
F – Dixon 6 run (kick failed)
F – Dixon 1 run (kick failed)
W – Ferguson 4 pass from Cluley (pass failed)
Team Stats Freehold Wall
First Downs 14 16
Rushes-Yards 40-340 27-72
Passing 2-4-0 21-30-2
Passing Yards 30 222
Fumbles-Recovered 1-1 1-0
Punts-Avg 1-23 1-31
Penalties 5-35 5-35
Rushing: (F) Dixon 24-272, Curry 14-61, Indursky 2-7. (W) Cluley 16-55, Schneider 7-15, Poss 4-2.
Passing: (F) Curry 2-4-0 30 yds. (W) Cluley 21-30-2 222 yds.
Receiving: (F) Indursky 2-30. (W) Callamaras 5-52, Janeczek 4-63, Larkin 4-26, Ferguson 3-25, Schneider 3-19, Fletcher 2-22.
Interceptions: (F) Smith-Rush 1-65, Fenn 1-17.