Rumson Shuts Out Delaware Valley to Win Its Second Straight CJ Group II Title
UNION — If there’s one thing the last five years have proven, it’s that when Rumson-Fair Haven reaches a state sectional final its defense is going to play lights out.
The Bulldogs turned in another defensive gem in a state title game on Saturday night at Kean University, shutting out Delaware Valley, 21-0, to claim their second straight NJSIAA Central Jersey Group II championship.
Rumson forced three turnovers, including a 53-yard fumble return for a touchdown by junior defensive back Matt Waters, and held Delaware Valley’s single-wing rushing attack to just 119 yards. Senior tailback Charlie Volker ran for 160 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries to cap a fantastic career, and sophomore quarterback Mike O’Connor ran for 77 yards and also threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to senior wide out Murray McHeffey to deliver Rumson its third state title since 2010 and its first back-to-back state titles in school history.
“I give all the credit in the world to coach (defensive coordinator Jerry) Schulte, he is a genius at the defensive game,” said senior defensive tackle Ben Eisenstadt. “And give a ton of credit to our scout team, they learned Delaware Valley’s whole offense. This was a team effort and a beautiful win.”
“It’s awesome,” Volker said. “We knew it was going to rain, and we came out and ran our style and played hard-nosed Bulldog football.”
In just his second season as a head coach overall, Rumson head coach Bryan Batchler guided the Bulldogs to a second consecutive title. The Bulldogs went 11-1 last season, so he has a 20-4 record over his first two seasons.
With both teams employing run-heavy offenses, the first quarter flew by with each team getting just one possession. Rumson (9-3) made its chance count to score the only points it would need with a nine-play, 99-yard drive that ended with Volker busting loose on a 48-yard touchdown run with one minute left in the opening period.
“I always have faith in my offensive line, but sometimes you just have to be patient because it’s not always going to be there,” Volker said. “But it was there on that run. It was a huge hole, so I have my fullback and line to thank for that.”
Rumson’s defense did the rest in the first half to give the Bulldogs a 14-0 halftime lead.
First, sophomore linebacker Michael Murdock stuffed Delaware Valley’s Ryan Romaine for one yard on fourth-and-3 from the Rumson 37. Later in the second quarter, Waters made a phenomenal play when he took the ball right out of the hands of Jesse Neighbour and returned it 53 yards for a touchdown, giving the Bulldogs a 14-0 lead with 4:01 left in the half.
Neighbour had ran for about a five-yard gain and was in the middle of a scrum trying to fight for extra yards. Waters swooped in for the turnover and took it all the way to the house.
“The defense had the guy held up, so I just ran right in there and went for the strip,” Waters said. “It was raining and wet out, so the ball came out pretty easily.”
“I was a little surprised, and lucky for me they didn’t blow the whistle. It was very weird. At first I thought it was going to get blown dead, but they didn’t and I just kept running.”
“I was yelling at the ref to blow the whistle and all the sudden he just squirts out of the pile,” Eisenstadt said. “I’ll remember that for the rest of my life.”
Rumson didn’t punt all game, but three turnovers kept them from blowing the game open and let a game Terriers (7-4) squad hang around. Rumson fumbled the opening kickoff of the second half, but got the ball right back when sophomore linebacker Michael Ruane jarred the ball loose and senior defensive back Jackson Reid recovered at the 40-yard line. That drive would stall at the DelVal 27-yard line, however, when O’Connor’s fourth down pass to senior tight end Kenny Ferrare fell incomplete.
Delaware Valley drove to Rumson’s 34-yard line on its next possession, keyed by a 24-yard pass from junior quarterback Joey Donnelly to sophomore receiver Logan Werrlein. But on third-and-seven from the 34, Donnelly was intercepted by senior defensive back Sam Eisenstadt, who returned it 37 yards to the Terriers' 46-yard line.
It appeared Rumson was set to go up by three scores, but Volker fumbled just as he was about to cross the goal line and Delaware Valley recovered in the end zone. Rumson would force a three-and-out to get the ball back at their own 20 to start the fourth quarter. From there they sealed their state championship with a mammoth scoring drive.
The Bulldogs ran 16 straight running plays to get down to the Terriers' 23-yard line, and on fourth-and-eight, O’Connor connected with McHeffey in the back of the end zone for a touchdown and a 21-0 lead after Tim Morales’ third extra point of the night. The 17-play, 80-yard drive gained six first downs and chewed up 9:45.
“It came down to that,” Volker said. “We asked ourselves in the huddle, 'How bad do we want another ring?’ It was about who wanted it more right there.”
The fall wasn’t the perfect year for Rumson, but the Bulldogs came together at the right time to bring home another state championship. An ankle injury kept Volker out of games against St. John Vianney and Long Branch - both losses - and the Bulldogs had to rebound after a loss to Shore on Thanksgiving eve to get ready for a state championship game. But in the most important game of the season, they once again came through with a fantastic performance.
“I was ready to do anything the coaches asked of me,” Volker said. “I wanted to leave it all on the field, and I think we did that.”
“I’m just so happy with this team,” Eisenstadt said. “I love my brothers and I’ll never forget this day.”
Rumson-Fair Haven 21, Delaware Valley 0
Delaware Valley (7-4) 0 0 0 0 – 0
Rumson-Fair Haven (9-3) 7 7 0 7 – 21
Charlie Volker 48-yard run (Tim Morales kick)
Matt Waters 53-yard fumble return (Tim Morales kick)
Mike O'Connor 23-yard pass to Murray McHeffey (Tim Morales kick)
Rushing – DV: Jesse Neighbour 16-66, Joey Donnelly 11-35, Dominic Benedetto 2-11, Ryan Romaine 4-7; RFH: Charlie Volker 25-160, Mike O'Connor 13-77, Lucas Seckler 3-12, Lachlan Hull 2-6.
Passing – DV: Joey Donnelly 6-12-1 97; RFH: Mike O'Connor 2-3-0 35.
Receiving – DV: Ryan Romaine 1-34, Logan Werrlein 1-24, Dominic Benedetto 1-19, Derek Kugelman 1-8, Frank McHugh 1-8, Najee Hudgins 1-4; RFH: Murray McHeffey 1-23, Kenny Ferrare 1-10.
Interceptions – RFH: Sam Eisenstadt 1-37.