By Ryan Fennell
Rumson – Off to a good start, the Rumson-Fair Haven Bulldogs (2-0, 1-0) play their second straight A-Central division opponent tonight at Borden Stadium at 7 pm against the Holmdel Hornets (2-0, 0-0), who have also had an impressive start to the season.
Having edged out Shore Regional (1-1, 1-0), 13-10 in double overtime to open the season, the Bulldogs rolled through Saint John Vianney (1-1, 0-1) last Friday, 35-13, led by senior quarterback Danny Roberto.
Roberto completed 8 of 10 pass attempts for 145 yards and three touchdowns in the Bulldogs’ rout of the Lancers last week. Roberto found senior wide receiver John Ryan on seven occasions for 113 yards and two touchdowns.
“He’s my go to guy,” Roberto said of Ryan, who has been getting open for the quarterback since their youth football days. “It was awesome. He did an awesome job.”
Roberto, Ryan, and the rest of the Bulldogs’ offense hopes the magic continues tonight against a Holmdel team that has yet to yield a point in its first two games of the season, defeating Barnegat (1-1, 1-0), 21-0, in week one and Middlesex (0-2, 0-1), 28-0, last Saturday.
Rumson-Fair Haven met Holmdel in week six last season, and while the Bulldogs ultimately came away with the 17-12 win en route to a 10-2 season and a second straight appearance in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group II final, the Hornets kept the game close enough to have a chance to steal a win in the final seconds.
In last year’s contest, Holmdel managed several goal line stands to keep the Bulldogs out of the endzone and the game close enough for a late strike. With less than a minute to go in the game and trailing by five, the Hornets charged down to the Bulldogs’ 42-yard line but came up short on the drive as time ran out.
However, Roberto had been held out of that game as a precaution having suffered a minor hamstring injury earlier in the week, and Holmdel’s then quarterback Matt Muh is now the quarterback at Shore Regional.
Rumson was also without three other starters in that game.
But, the Holmdel Hornets are still sporting a stingy defense that hasn’t allowed a point to date.
That feat might be short-lived, though, if Roberto and the Bulldogs can carry the offensive momentum it had against SJV into tonight’s game.
Rumson came out of the gates quick against the Lancers scoring on its third play from scrimmage when Roberto hit junior wide receiver Melquan Reevey in the endzone for a 32-yard touchdown strike.
SJV was pinned on its own 1-yard line following the kickoff and, on its first play of the drive, snapped the ball high over quarterback Billy DeMato’s head and was recovered in the endzone by Rumson’s John Greeley for the Bulldogs’ second touchdown in the first three minutes of play.
The Bulldogs went up 21-0 when senior Michael Clarke fielded a Lancers’ punt at his own 37-yard line and returned it 63-yards for the touchdown to open the second quarter.
“They (SJV) had a big opening week win against Monsignor Donovan scoring 40 points, so we wanted to be able to come out and establish momentum in the first quarter against them,” Rumson-Fair Haven head coach Shane Fallon said. “We thought it would be big momentum-wise. The first quarter would be key. We knew (SJV) would come out all jacked-up and be ready. We wanted to take the momentum away from them.
“After that we had kids step up and make plays,” Fallon added. “Travis Clark running the ball and Danny Roberto is Danny Roberto. He showed why he is one of the best quarterbacks in the Shore. He made some big plays.”
Rumson scored again in the third on a 38-yard TD pass from Roberto to Ryan and once again in the fourth on a 30-yard toss to Ryan.
“They came out real pumped up and ready to play us,” Roberto said. “We came out harder. We knew we couldn’t let our emotions control us. We executed well on offense and executed awesome on defense.”
SJV managed to score on a 25-yard TD pass from DeMato to Julanee Prince in the second quarter and again with two-seconds left in the third on a 1-yard TD run.