By Jim Hintelmann
RUMSON – The unbeaten Rumson-Fair Haven Regional (10-0) express continued to roll without skipping a beat Friday with the Bulldogs scoring a workmanlike 35-7 rout of Delaware Valley in an NJSIAA Central Jersey Group II semifinals game.
As a result, there will be a rematch Dec. 3 when the defending champion Bulldogs take on a familiar opponent, Matawan. It will be the fourth meeting between the two teams in two years.
Matawan earned the rematch by handing Manasquan its first setback, 24-14, in the other semifinal game Saturday.
The setting will be reversed this time, though. A year ago Rumson lost to Matawan in a regular season game, but upset the Huskies in the title game.
This time Rumson trimmed Matawan in the regular season and will be looking for a repeat title.
Friday’s game with Delaware Valley (8-2) was no contest from the start with Rumson, which gained its school record 10th win, scoring on its first series and never letting up.
“My coaching staff did a great job preparing our kids,” said Rumson coach Shane Fallon. “We have a lot of seniors who work hard and I’m just glad to come out of here with a win.”
Rumson used perfect balance mixing in a solid running game, led by Connor Riley and Connor Walsh, with some pin-point passing from quarterback Dan Roberto, who completed 10 of 15 passes for 195 yards and a touchdown.
“The running game was awesome,” said Roberto. “Riley did a great job and the defense did everything right. The passing game clicked and we got out on top early.”
Rumson began the game by rolling 68 yards in just six plays with Riley scoring on a 27 yard run. Will Volker kicked the first of five extra points for a 7-0 lead.
Riley came back with the game’s best play after the defense forced a Delaware Valley punt,
The ball took a high hop away from Riley, who ran back and picked up the ball at the 15 and raced down the right sideline in front of the Rumson bench and, behind good blocking, went the remaining distance for 14-0 lead.
“Getting back there (the CJ II final) has been on our minds,” said Riley, “but we just go week to week. We feel that we reload, not rebuild.”
Rumson was back in business on its first series of the second quarter when it marched 38 yards in nine plays, overcoming a holding penalty, with Walsh scoring on a 6-yard run.
Rumson was on the move again on its next series with a seven-play, 80-yard drive capped by a 6-yard touchdown pass from Roberto to Jake Clapp, who was alone in the end zone. A 37-yard pass from Roberto to Blake Potter set it up.
“Their offense is a single wing, which you don’t see often,” said Fallon. “We were able to run our offense and eat up the clock. Roberto’s passes were key tonight. He had a lot of big completions to give us first downs. I’m just happy to be in the finals.”
Rumson almost scored right before the half when it reached the 7, but a field goal try by Volker missed.
The Terriers took the second half kickoff and went 50 yards to the Rumson 33 before being stopped.
Rumson then put on a 66-yard drive in 8 plays with Dave DeCamp scoring the final Bulldogs touchdown on a 5-yard run.
The Terriers scored their lone touchdown late in the game against the Rumson reserves.
While the Matawan game will be for the CJ II title, Rumson will have another huge game Friday when it meets B North champion Red Bank Catholic at Count Basie Field.
It almost was going to be a battle of unbeaten teams, but RBC dropped a double overtime heartbreaker to unbeaten Delbarton, 30-23, in the NJSIAA Non-Public III semifinals Saturday. Rumson will be seeking it first win over RBC since 2001.