No. 6 Rumson Shuts Down Middletown South
RUMSON — Through two games, sixth-ranked Rumson-Fair Haven did everything it needed to from a wins and losses standpoint, but the Bulldogs knew they had not nearly played their best football.
“We were good enough to win the first two games, but it wasn’t good enough by our standards,” said Rumson head coach Jerry Schulte. “Tonight was”.
Senior running back Peter Lucas ran for 130 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries and the Rumson defense allowed just 77 yards of total offense in an impressive 35-0 Shore Conference nondivisional win over Middletown South on Thursday night at Borden Stadium. Junior fullback Alex Maldjian had an 87-yard touchdown on a screen pass and senior quarterback Dan Harby tossed a 15-yard touchdown to junior tight end Ian O’Connor.
The Bulldogs’ defense allowed just six first downs and kept Middletown South out of the end zone, the first time the Eagles have been shut out since 2013. Junior Mike Lizotte returned an interception 20 yards for a touchdown and senior defensive end Elijah McAllister had another standout performance with a sack, two tackles for a loss and another stop for no gain.
Squaring off against a Middletown South program that has 10 sectional titles, and also beat the Bulldogs, 14-13, last season, helped bring out the best in all phases of Rumson’s game.
“Competition just makes us better, and we’re hoping to now keep it going all year,” Lucas said.
It was an auspicious start for Rumson (3-0) thanks Middletown South senior Jake Krellin, who owned the game’s first series with a batted pass, a sack and a blocked punt that gave the Eagles (2-2) the ball at Rumson’s 9-yard line. The Bulldogs’ defense allowed just four yards over the next three plays, however, and then the 22-yard field attempt sailed wide to keep the game scoreless.
The Bulldogs then went to work on a 10-play, 80-yard drive - exclusively on the ground - to take a 7-0 lead. Maldjian broke a 31-yard run on the first play to get the ball across midfield and Harby later converted a fourth-and-1. After a bootleg for eight yards by Harby down to the 15, Lucas burst up the middle for his first touchdown run and seventh of the season.
On the following possession on third-and-14 from the 24-yard line, Middletown South called for a screen pass to running back Chaz Alessi. McAllister used his great height advantage to force Eagles quarterback Ben Kinsella to loft the ball high in the air where Lizotte picked it off and ran it in for a touchdown and a 14-0 lead.
“It helps a little bit that I’m 6-foot-6, 6-foot-7,” McAllister said. “If I can’t get there I’ll put my hands up and hopefully get a tipped pass and I tipped that one and Lizotte got the interception.”
Middletown South put together its best drive of the game next, moving to the Rumson 33-yard line with the help of a 15-yard late-hit penalty on Rumson. On third-and-12 McAllister and junior defensive end Henry Sullivan combined to drop Kinsella for no gain and force the Eagles to punt.
On third-and-3 on the ensuing possession for Rumson, Harby flicked a screen pass to Maldjian, who broke a tackle down the home sideline before racing 87 yards for a touchdown that gave Rumson a commanding 21-0 lead.
Rumson received to begin the second half knowing it had the chance to put the game away with a score. It took all of one play to do just that as Lucas somehow broke free from a gang of Middletown South tacklers to turn a short gain into a 63-yard touchdown run and a 28-0 Rumson lead.
“Our plan was to get the ball, take as much time off the clock as we could and put it in,” Schulte said. “We accomplished half of that, but I’ll take that half any time.”
A tackle for a loss by junior defensive end Isaac Vernon helped Rumson force a three-and-out on Middletown South’s next drive. A 6-play, 51-yard scoring drive followed for the Bulldogs to give them a 35-0 lead and start a running clock for the remainder of the game. Maldjian had a 21-yard run and Harby converted a third-and-3 with an 8-yard run on a bootleg for a first down at the Eagles’ 15-yard line. Harby then found O’Connor for his second touchdown pass of the game.
Middletown South had a chance to avoid the shutout late in the fourth quarter, but a fumble was recovered by Rumson junior linebacker Keegan Woods at the Bulldogs’ 21-yard line. Woods also had a sack on the night.
Rumson did just about everything right on offense and defense in controlling Middletown South. Now that the Bulldogs have seen what they can do when they put it all together, the key is to sustain that the rest of the way.
“After a shaky game versus Holmdel, coming out good today was a good sign,” Lucas said.
“This was the best game we’ve played all year,” Schulte said. “We finally got everything together the way we wanted to.”
No. 6 Rumson-Fair Haven 35, Middletown South 0
Rumson-Fair Haven (3-0) 7 14 14 0 — 35
Middletown South (2-2) 0 0 0 0 — 0
Peter Lucas 15-yard run (James Hempstead kick)
Mike Lizotte 20-yard interception return (James Hempstead kick)
Alex Maldjian 87-yard pass from Dan Harby (James Hempstead kick)
Peter Lucas 63-yard run (James Hempstead kick)
Ian O’Connor 15-yard pass from Dan Harby (James Hempstead kick)
RUSHING — MS: Chaz Alessi 19-72, Jamie Petrillo 2-(-2), Rob Zega 1-(-1), Ben Kinsella 10-(-7); RFH: Peter Lucas 12-130, Alex Maldjian 6-58, Pete Crowley 6-13, Dan Harby 4-8, Stephen Edler 1-0.
PASSING — MS: Ben Kinsella 3-9-1 15; RFH: Dan Harby 2-3-0 102.
RECEIVING — MS: Rob Zega 2-12, Aidan McCann 1-3; RFH: Alex Maldjian 1-87, Ian O’Connor 1-15.
INTERCEPTIONS — RFH: Mike Lizotte 1-20.
Managing editor Bob Badders can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.