WEST LONG BRANCH – The opportunity to play in the All-Shore Gridiron Classic was everything for Cameron Caorsi. It represented a chance to prove the running back from Marlboro who rushed for nearly 1,400 yards in just eight games was as good as advertised, and that he and his teammates most certainly belonged alongside the rest of the top players in the Shore Conference.

Caorsi was confident he could contribute to a Monmouth County victory while his coach Jason Dagato, who was calling the defense for Monmouth, saw the fire in his running back during the week of practice. But what transpired when game time rolled around was beyond even their wildest dreams.

Caorsi turned in an all-time performance on Thursday night by rushing for single-game record 168 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries to lead Monmouth County to a 17-8 victory over Ocean County in the 40th annual All-Shore Gridiron Classic at Shore Regional’s Feeney Field.

“It’s really special and I’m extremely happy,” Caorsi said. “I’m speechless. I didn’t expect any of this. I have to give credit to the O-line. They did it all. They made this happen. That’s the reason I have this record right now.”

Caorsi ran for 92 yards on 14 carries in the first half and added 76 yards on 11 carries over the final two quarters to break the old mark of 161 yards set by legendary Freehold running back Joe “The Jet” Henderson in 1986. It is the first Gridiron Classic individual record set since Brick’s Kurt Loftus returned a punt 70 yards for a touchdown in 2008.

“They told me toward the end of the game I needed one more yard,” Caorsi said. “I was like, ‘ok, I’ll get it. I’ll get more than one yard’.”

“I saw it all week, he was killing us,” said Dagato, who had to go against Caorsi in practice as Monmouth County’s defensive coordinator. “I know every time what I’m going to get from him and it’s effort like you couldn’t believe.”

“To see Cam go by me brought back old memories,” said Marlboro center Riley Keating, who was part of the unit up front that paved the way for Caorsi’s record-breaking night. “It’s just an unbelievable feeling right now.”

Keating along with Keyport’s Erik Nellis and Shore’s Mike Devine at guard, Neptune’s Gary Hoover and Keansburg’s Richie Squeo at tackle and Wall’s Gene Scott and Manasquan’s Adam Schreck at tight end cleared a path for Monmouth County to rush for 204 yards.

Monmouth County had 20 first downs and 47 rushing attempts, both of which were one off the respective single-game records.

Caorsi was the obvious choice for Monmouth County’s offensive MVP award. Keyport defensive end Zack Frick was selected as Monmouth County’s defensive MVP with one sack, one tackle for a loss and a fumble recovery.

“The mindset was just to beat anybody out there,” Frick said. “I’m a little out of shape so I just tried to hang in there.”

Lakewood wide receiver Adi Palmer was selected as Ocean County’s offensive MVP with six receptions for 68 yards, while Lacey’s Chase Stephensen was Ocean County’s defensive MVP with a fumble recovery.

Red Bank Catholic defensive back Max Hazard also had a standout game with two interceptions, the first of which led to Monmouth’s first touchdown.

“Today was kind of surreal,” Hazard said. “Playing in a high school game for the last time with random kids that you’ve now bonded with during the week was a really fun experience. To have a big impact and have the opportunities to make those plays meant a lot to me.”

St. John Vianney’s Matt DeGennaro threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Asbury Park’s Paul Reed in the first quarter and Freehold Township’s Tyler Schulman kicked a 29-yard field in the second quarter to give Monmouth County a 10-0 halftime lead. Caorsi’s touchdown early in the fourth quarter put Monmouth up 17-0 before Ocean County answered on the ensuing drive with a 12-yard touchdown pass from Brick’s Anthony Costanza to Point Boro’s Hayden Frey.

The Sam Mills Awards were handed out between the third and fourth quarters with Frey for Ocean County and Middletown North’s Jake Goldfarb from Monmouth County as the recipients. Monmouth’s win snapped Ocean’s three-game winning streak and denied its bid to become the first team to win four consecutive Gridiron Classics.

On the opening possession of the game a 21-yard tackle for a loss by Manchester’s Tariq Ali on Reed squashed Monmouth County’s drive and led to a punt. Ocean County was able to convert a fourth-and-1 on a 2-yard run by Costanza, but on the next play Hazard came down with the interception at the Monmouth 40-yard line.

Following the turnover Monmouth marched 60 yards in 12 plays to take a 7-0 lead. Caorsi carried four times for 25 yards on the drive while DeGennaro had chain-moving completions to Freehold’s Ahlonte Hair and Howell’s Dan Cacciatore. Shore quarterback Matt Pennell had a six-yard gain on fourth-and-1 from the Ocean 25-yard line to keep the drive going. A 5-yard swing pass from DeGennaro to Reed on second-and-goal capped the drive and Schulman’s extra point made it 7-0 with 1:49 left in the opening quarter.

Ocean County went three-and-out on its next possession and Monmouth took over at its own 46-yard line where it embarked on an 11-play drive to extend its lead. Freehold Township quarterback Charles Sabbagh had a 13-yard completion to Scott and then a 17-yard hookup with Hair on fourth-and-9. A sack on third down by Central’s Jared Giaimo and Point Beach’s Cody Liguori forced a field goal attempt, and Schulman remained perfect in his only high school football season by connecting from just inside 30 yards with 9:05 left in the first half.

Southern quarterback Sam Cammarata entered the game on the next drive and found immediate chemistry with Palmer, hitting the 6-foot-3 target for an 18-yard gain on first down to get the ball out to midfield. A 7-yard completion to Frey followed by another 18-yard pass Palmer and an eight-yard gain down to the Monmouth 17-yard line. But two plays later a fumble on the snap was recovered by Frick, killing the promising drive.

Raritan’s Marc Carnivale directed Monmouth’s drive that began at the Ocean 23 and got all the way to the 1-yard line. Carnivale had a 9-yard gain to Raritan teammate Rory Sullivan and later had a 22-yard gain to Hair that initially was ruled a touchdown but was changed by another official who ruled Hair stepped out of bounds at the 2-yard line. The call being changed proved costly for Monmouth County, because three plays later on third-and-goal from the 1-yard line the snap was fumbled and Stephensen recovered for Ocean County with under a minute left in the half.

Caorsi had three carries for 32 yards on the drive to finish the first half at 92 yards. That began the buzz of whether Caorsi could break the 31-year old single-game rushing record.

Ocean County received to start the second half and moved to the Monmouth 21-yard line, but another interception by Hazard kept Ocean from cracking the scoreboard. The teams traded punts on the next two possessions of the third quarter.

Monmouth started the fourth quarter on the Ocean 39-yard line and needed eight plays to get into the end zone and take a 17-0 lead. Hair ran for 10 yards on first down and then caught a 16-yard pass from Sabbagh to move the ball to the 19-yard line. Caorsi polished off the drive with a 3-yard plunge to put him at 139 yards for the game with 10:55 still left to play.

Ocean County answered immediately with an 11-play, 73-yard drive. Costanza hit Lakewood’s Honore Richardson for 21 yards out to the 48, then ran for a 9-yard gain before connecting with Central’s Mike Bickford for seven more yards down to the Monmouth 36-yard line. Five runs by Costanza and a 6-yard pass to Frey moved the ball to the 12-yard line, where on third down Costanza found Frey cutting toward the middle of the field and the Panthers standout was able to haul in the scoring pass to get Ocean County on the board. Costanza then threw a 2-point conversion pass to Bickford to make it 17-8 with 4:12 left.

By that time the only drama left was whether Caorsi could break the rushing record. With Monmouth’s drive starting at its own 35-yard line, Caorsi gained 6 yards on first down, then 15 yards three plays later. There was a long delay after the play as Keyport’s Nellis suffered a knee injury. At that point Caorsi was informed he was one yard away from tying the record.

When play resumed Caorsi muscled forward for a 2-yard gain to reach 162 yards and officially set a new Gridiron Classic single-game rushing record. He got one more carry for good measure, knifing forward for six yards and a first down that set the new standard of 168 yards and sealed Monmouth’s victory.

“I came into the game wanting to show what I can do and I didn’t have any doubts,” Caorsi said. “I was confident in what we could do as a team and we showed them. We beat them.”

Box Score

Monmouth 17, Ocean 8

First downs1220
Passing yards139115


Ocean (18-21-1)          0 0 0 8 –  8

Monmouth (21-18-1) 7 3 0 7 – 17


Scoring summary

M – Matt DeGennaro 5-yard pass to Paul Reed (Tyler Schulman kick)

M – Tyler Schulman 29-yard field goal

M – Cameron Caorsi 3-yard run (Tyler Schulman kick)

O – Anthony Costanza 12-yard pass to Hayden Frey (Anthony Costanza pass to Mike Bickford)


Individual statistics

Rushing – O: Anthony Costanza 16-39, Mike Bickford 5-13, Sam Cammarata 3-4, Rah’son McCall 2-0; M: Cameron Caorsi 25-168, Matt Pennell 7-22, Vito Aleo 4-20, Ahlonte Hair 2-13, Carmen Catena 3-10, Marc Carnivale 1-1, Gene Scott 1-0, Matt DeGennaro 2-(-3), Paul Reed 2-(-27).

Passing – O: Anthony Costanza 7-12-2 73, Sam Cammarata 5-6-0 66; M: Charles Sabbagh 3-4-0 46, Marc Carnivale 4-4-0 35, Matt DeGennaro 4-8-0 23, Rory Sullivan 1-1-0 11.

Receiving – O: Adi Palmer 6-68, Honore Richardson 2-39, Hayden Frey 3-25, Mike Bickford 1-7; M: Ahlonte Hair 5-63, Gene Scott 1-13, Dan Cacciatore 2-11, Matt DeGennaro 1-11, Rory Sullivan 1-9, Paul Reed 2-8.

Interceptions – M: Max Hazard 2-0.


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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