RED BANK – Resting on its laurels is not something Rumson-Fair Haven’s football team allows itself to do, and this season more than ever, that would have been a recipe for disaster.

The Bulldogs were gutted by graduation and returned just a handful of starters on each side of the ball. Their several first-year starters were expected to perform, and not just over time. It had to happen immediately. There were many questions to be answered and zero chance at easing into the season. Not with No. 1 Red Bank Catholic as their first opponent.

Rumson can easily be labeled as the Shore Conference’s defining program of the last 10 years, and on Friday night at Count Basie Field, the Bulldogs showed why.

Junior running back John Volker ran for 150 yards and a touchdown and also caught a touchdown pass and Rumson’s defense held RBC to 235 yards of offense while also using a 70-yard interception return for a touchdown by junior safety Ryan Ruane. It all added up to a 20-14 Shore Conference American Division victory for the No. 4 Bulldogs over the top-ranked Caseys, their first against their rivals since 2002.

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“No one thought we were going to do this and we pulled it out,” Volker said. “It’s the best feeling in the world.”

The season-opening clash of the titans – Rumson is the defending Central Jersey Group 3 and Central-South Group 3 Bowl Game champion while RBC is the defending Non-Public Group 3 champion – favored the host Caseys on paper. They returned more experience on each side, including Notre Dame-bound tight end Kevin Bauman and Boston College-bound linebacker Charlie Gordinier. Rumson has earned the benefit of the doubt to be regarded as one of the Shore’s best until proven otherwise, but the Bulldogs had considerably more questions to answer entering the season.

The first regarded its offensive line. Their mauling unit from a season ago was comprised entirely of seniors, leaving a void that could make or break the season. Veteran offensive line coach Joe Murphy worked his magic and the unit of junior James Smith at left tackle, senior Lucas Borneo at center, senior Kirk Yarbrough at right tackle, seniors James Greeley and Jack Susser and sophomore Christian Smith rotating at guard plus senior Owen McLaughlin and junior Luke Devlin at tight end hit the ground running with a fantastic performance.

“That’s the best holes I’ve maybe ever seen running the ball,” Volker said. “I would always get a guaranteed two or three yards. They were making that first hole and I just had to run through it. It made my job a lot easier.”

“That’s dedicated kids and Joe Murphy,” said Rumson head coach Jerry Schulte. “He is the best offensive line coach I’ve ever been around. To take five brand-new kids and do that against the (No. 1) team in the Shore, that says something.”

Defensively, Rumson returned just four starters in Ruane, senior linebacker Gordon Forsyth, senior cornerback Drew Frankel and junior defensive tackle Von Factor. It was hard to tell. First-year starters like senior defensive end Liam Horan and sophomore linebacker John Lista were playmakers from the opening whistle. The Bulldogs held Red Bank Catholic to just 56 yards rushing.

“It doesn’t matter if we’re playing Alabama or RBC, we’re going to prepare and come out for every game with the same intensity,” said senior linebacker Gordon Forsyth. “This game was everything. The defense as a unit prepared for that offense and we came out and showed up.”

Rumson’s defense set the tone on the opening series by forcing Red Bank Catholic to go three-and-out. The Caseys ran three plays - all handoffs - for a total of minus-2 yards.

“That first series was a momentum-shifter for us,” Forsyth said.

“Once you can establish the line of scrimmage you have an edge and we were able to do that,” Schulte said.

Rumson’s offense got going on its second possession and struck first to cap a 57-yard scoring drive early in the second quarter. Junior wide receiver David Livingston had a 20-yard reception to move the ball into RBC territory and a handful of plays later, Volker converted a fourth and two with a 13-yard, pile-carrying run. Two plays later, senior quarterback Collin Coles found Volker out of the backfield on a wheel route for a 21-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead.

“We run that probably twice a day in practice and it’s my favorite play,” Volker said.

RBC looked to bounce back on its next possession and got off to a good start when senior running back Billy Guidetti broke off an 18-yard run out near midfield, but a sack for a nine-yard loss by sophomore Charles Moriarty set the Caseys back and ultimately squashed the drive.

Rumson then took over at its own 34-yard line and marched 66 yards in seven plays to take a 13-0 lead. Senior Patrick Jamin had an 11-yard catch to move the chains on third and 9 before Volker ripped off a 33-yard touchdown run. The extra point was no good, gut the Bulldogs now had a two-score lead with 3:48 left in the first half.

The lead held through halftime, and with Rumson set to receive the third-quarter kickoff the Bulldogs had a chance to forge a commanding lead. RBC caught the break it needed, however, when the kickoff bounced off a Rumson player and was recovered by kicker Chaz Hart. The Caseys had the ball at the Bulldogs’ 37-yard line and a huge opportunity to get back into the game.

Ruane had a different plan.

On second down, Ruane jumped a route and picked off RBC quarterback Ryan Edgerly at the 30-yard line, returning it 70 yards for a touchdown to give Rumson a 20-0 lead and leave the home crowd stunned.

“On film we noticed that every time they went trips with Bauman to that side there would be a double out by the No. 2 and N. 3 receivers and a vertical by the No. 1,” Ruane said. “I just read my key and the quarterback’s eyes and that’s how it happened.”

“It was nuts,” Forsyth said. “Once I saw him jump the route I knew he was gone.”

RBC did not go down without a fight. A fumble recovery by Gordinier at the Rumson 36-yard line sparked the Caseys’ offense to finally crack the scoreboard with 30 seconds left in the third quarter. RBC actually went backwards on its first two plays of the drive before a short gain and an offsides penalty brought up a fourth and nine. Head coach Frank Edgerly went deep into the playbook and struck gold when Kevin Degnan pulled up for a halfback pass and connected with a wide-open Sean Rossback for a 35-yard touchdown.

The Caseys forced a punt on the next series and took over at their own 25-yard line with 9:43 to play. On third and five, Guidetti took a screen pass 32 yards into RFH territory, and two plays later Bauman hauled in a 33-yard pass over the middle for a first down at the 12-yard line. On second down, Anthony Borriello took a direct snap and ran for a 12-yard touchdown to pull RBC within one score at 20-14.

Rumson then moved the ball to the Red Bank Catholic 43-yard line, but on third down Borriello intercepted Coles at the 19-yard line. Once down 20-0, the Caseys now had a chance to take the lead but had to march 81 yards in 3:03 to do so. After a five-yard catch by Elijah Jules on first down, the Caseys lost a yard on second down and threw an incomplete pass on third down. On fourth and five, Jules reached for a pass over the middle but was unable to haul it in as he dove to the turf. Rumson took over on downs, churned out one final first down and celebrated its first win over RBC in nearly two decades.

“Obviously we’re psyched up about this,” Volker said. “We feel like we can beat anyone now. This is a huge win for our program and we’re just excited to see where it leads from here.”

 

Box Score

Rumson-Fair HavenRed Bank Catholic
First downs119
Rushes-yards32-15726-56
Passing4-7-110-19-1
Passing yards56179
Fumbles-lost2-20-0
Penalties-yards4-203-20

 

1234F
Rumson0137020
RBC007714

 

Scoring summary

RFH – John Volker 21-yard pass from Collin Coles (Michael Piperno kick)

RFH – John Volker 33-yard run (kick failed)

RFH – Ryan Ruane 70-yard interception return (Michael Piperno kick)

RBC – Sean Rossback 35-yard pass from Kevin Degnan (Chaz Hart kick)

RBC – Anthony Borriello 12-yard run (Chaz Hart kick)

 

Individual statistics

RUSHING – RFH: John Volker 29-150, Pete Crowley 3-7; RBC: Billy Guidetti 12-35, Anthony Borriello 2-28, Elijah Jules 6-5, Ryan Edgerly 1-3, Kevin Degnan 4-(-6), Team 1-(-9).

PASSING – RFH: Collin Coles 4-7-1 56; RBC: Ryan Edgerly 9-17-1 144, Kevin Degnan 1-1-0 35.

RECEIVING – RFH: John Volker 2-25, David Livingston 1-20, Patrick Jamin 1-11; RBC: Elijah Jules 4-43, Kevin Bauman 2-38, Sean Rossback 1-35, Billy Guidetti 1-32, Kevin Degnan 2-30.

INTERCEPTIONS – RFH: Ryan Ruane, 1-70; RBC: Anthony Borriello, 1-0.

 

Managing editor Bob Badders can be reached at bob.badders@townsquaremedia.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.

 

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