By Jim Hintelmann
ASBURY PARK – Asbury Park went into Saturday’s battle of the unbeatens against Rumson-Fair Haven Regional as the leader in total defense, allowing just 68 yards per game, but it was Rumson’s defense that stole the show.
Rumson’s defense, led by Michael Alonzo and Jack Eisenstadt, completely shut down Asbury Park’s running game, holding the Blue Bishops to only 28 yards rushing.
In fact, with the exception of pass completions of 53 and 20-yards, the Bishops were completely shut down as Rumson rolled to a convincing 28-6 win in a perfect tune-up for its run at another Central Jersey Group II championship.
Rumson received the top seed in the CJ Group II playoff bracket and will host 8th seeded Rahway this Friday night at 7 pm.
“I didn’t expect anything like this,” said Rumson coach Shane Fallon. “What we wanted to do is to stop their running game and make them beat us with passing. To hold down Asbury Park like that was a phenomenal effort,” he said. “We wanted to get an early lead and make them play from behind. I think they trailed only once this season.”
Rumson’s running game was also stopped by a strong Blue Bishop defense and
managed only 32 yards, 22 of them on a run by Connor Riley in the third quarter, but the Bulldogs made up for it with a timely passing game.
Quarterback Danny Roberto completed 15 of 28 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns. Eight of the completions were made by wide receiver Blake Potter for 155 yards and a touchdown.
“Asbury Park was packing the middle of the line,” said Roberto. “That gave our receivers some open spaces. Our coaches were preaching all week that this was like a playoff game. This should give us confidence.”
This is Potter’s second season as a wide receiver as he played quarterback previously.
“It (pass catching) just comes naturally to me,” said Potter. “I guess just have big hands. I had been a quarterback all my life until last year. It ended up that I would help the team more that way (wide receiver).”
Rumson scored on its second series of the game when Roberto threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Jake Clapp, and Will Volker kicked the first of four extra points.
In the second quarter, the Bulldogs used a bit of trickery for their second touchdown.
With Roberto completing four passes for 56 yards, Rumson moved from its 25 to the Bishop 21-yard line. Here, Roberto tossed the ball to Kevin O’Connor, who then passed to Potter, who was all alone in the end zone for a 14-0 lead.
Rumson almost scored again just before the half, but was stopped on an odd play. The Bulldogs had driven to the Asbury Park 3-yard line with nine seconds left until the half.
Roberto then attempted a pass, but it was deflected into the hands of Rumson tackle Andrew Brunetto, who tried to score, but was dragged down at the 1 as time expired.
Asbury Park’s lone scoring drive came in the third quarter when it went 80 yards in four plays with Armond Conover scoring from the 5 on a bootleg.
Except for that one drive the Bishops were completely stopped, getting off only 12 plays in the second half.
Rumson made it 21-6 on its next series early in the third period when Jack Miles scored on a 3-yard run. It was set up by an excellent catch by Potter on a 19-yard pass from Roberto. Miles took it in on the next play.
Rumson then surprised the Bishops with an onside kick with Michael Morales recovering at midfield. This set up its final touchdown, a 19-yard toss from Roberto to Nico Giaimo.