By Brian Deakyne
EWING – The most successful team in the history of Colts Neck High School football had opportunities against Brick Township High School, but it fell short in a fight to win its first sectional title in school history.
Third-seeded Colts Neck took a 7-6 lead into halftime of the NJSIAA, Central Jersey, Group 4 sectional championship game at The College of New Jersey on Saturday afternoon, but a physical running attack from top-seeded Brick Township was too much too handle.
Brick outscored Colts Neck 20-8 in the second half – including a 14-0 advantage in the fourth quarter – to win its first sectional title since 1994, 26-15.
“They controlled the clock with their running game, they have some big boys over there and that quarterback adds another dimension to the game,” Colts Neck coach Greg LaCava said. “Our kids fought their tails off. I couldn’t be more proud of them. They’ve got further than any team in Colts Neck school history, and they should be proud of their effort.”
Brick opened the third quarter with an eight-play, 69-yard touchdown drive and added an eight-play, 76-yard touchdown drive to start the fourth quarter to wear down Colts Neck’s defense.
Brick quarterback Carmen Scalfini torched Colts Neck’s defense for more than 200 yards total and added two scores for the Dragons.
“They just loaded everyone. At the point of attack, they’re very difficult to stop. I think we did a decent job in the first half forcing them to throw the ball, and you saw at the end of the second quarter what they were going to do. They started doing what they do and we weren’t able to stop it.”
Scalfini ran in a score from one-yard out on the opening drive of the second half to put Brick up, 12-7. But the Cougars responded with a 10-play, 58-yard drive that resulted in a 3-yard touchdown run by Colts Neck quarterback Christian Sanchez to put Colts Neck up, 15-12.
After that, it was all Brick.
The Dragons came right back to take the lead back midway through the fourth quarter when running back Ray Fattaruso ran it in from 2 yards out to put Brick up, 19-15, with just under 3 minutes remaining.
In what appeared to be Colts Neck’s last hope of a comeback, the Cougars went four-and-out and turned the ball over on downs at their own 16-yard line with 2:07 left.
Brick added the game-clinching score when running back Mike Muratore capped the short three-play drive with a 2-yard touchdown run with 1:12 to go, putting the Dragons on top, 26-15.
“I think we had some opportunities to complete some passes and we didn’t do that as well as we’ve done in the past,” LaCava said. “We felt we’d have to spread them out a little bit to run the ball and we had some success. But, we can’t give up drives in the third quarter and the fourth quarter that go almost 7 minutes. They had two drives that chewed up 70 yards or more and we couldn’t stop them and that’s what happens in football.”
After a scoreless first quarter, Sanchez put Colts Neck on top in the second quarter when he ran in a quarterback keeper in from 48 yards out. Brick came back to score on an eight-play drive when Scalfini ran in his first touchdown from 5 yards out, but the extra point was no good.
The loss caps off a season that witnessed Colts Neck win its first two playoff games in school history and make a bid to win its first state title in school history.
“It’s sad for the kids and I feel bad for the kids, but I told them that this is all part of competition,” LaCava said. “You win, you lose, you play the game for the love of the game and you’ve got to be able to handle the outcome and today we were on the losing end.”