The Rumson-Fair Haven Bulldogs (6-4) advanced to the NJSIAA South Jersey, Group 2 Sectional Final after a dominating second half in their win over the Oakcrest Falcons 28-6 in Rumson, New Jersey.
The first half of Friday Night’s contest was a strong defensive battle as both teams clashed in hopes for a chance at the Sectional Finals. The Falcons had the first scoring opportunity of the half, but the Bulldogs shut down the Falcons read option leading to a fumble, recovered by Rumson defender Nick Costello.
Late in the first half, Oakcrest was forced to punt deep in their own territory after a quick three and out, giving Rumson great field possession at the Falcons 45-yard line. Later on in the drive, the Bulldogs found themselves 4th and 1 at Oakcrest’s 20-yard line. Rumson decided to go for it, getting stopped short, a costly facemask penalty was called on the defense moving the chains for Rumson.
This penalty led to the first score of the game, as running back Alastair Orr scored the 3-yard touchdown with 39 seconds left in the first half to give Rumson the 7-0 lead going into the second half.
From the start of the second half, the Falcons fell apart. Both returners for Falcons pumped into each other forcing a muffed, second half kickoff. With bad field possession to start the half on their own 11-yard line, the Falcons botched the snap forcing them to take a 4-yard loss. The Falcons were once again forced to punt deep in their own territory giving Rumson the ball on Oakcrest’s 35-yard line.
Rumson once again took advantage of great field possession. They drove down to the red zone after another facemask penalty from Oakcrest. Orr pushed his way for nine yards to set the Bulldogs up 1st and goal from the one-yard line. Next play, Orr rushed for his second touchdown of the night giving Rumson a 13-0 lead after a blocked extra point with 6:59 remaining in the 3rd quarter.
After this score, Oakcrest looked defeated as they had a quick three and out forcing them to punt deep in their own territory. A botched snap on the punt gave Rumson great field possession once again starting at Oakcrest 25-yard line.
Rumson’s running back, Brayden Dill, took advantage of the great field possession rushing for a 15-yard run to give the Bulldogs 1st and goal from the 10. Two plays later, Dill slipped through Falcons' defenders to score an 8-yard touchdown run on 3rd down making it 21-0 after wide receiver Nick Rigby converted the two-point conversion.
Moving on into the final quarter of Friday night’s contest where the Falcons finally found themselves deep in Rumson territory after almost blocking Rumson’s punt deep in their own end zone. This gave Oakcrest the ball on Rumson’s 18-yard line, as the Falcons were eager to take advantage and get on the board. Shortly after, Freshman running back Jaleel Williams rushed for a five-yard touchdown to get the Falcons on the board with 8:43 left to play with the score being 21-6.
Oakcrest, down two scores with limited time remaining, decided to go for the onside kick. It almost looked like the Falcons recovered the kick, but after the big pile up, the refs awarded the ball to the Bulldogs giving them the ball at midfield.
Rumson continued to use their dominating rushing attack to help burn the clock in the 4th quarter. While at Oakcrest 32-yard line, Alastair Orr broke out his longest run of the night for 31 yards giving the Bulldogs 1st and goal from the one. Orr was stuffed on first down, but the Bulldogs decided to give it to their workhorse as the next play Orr found himself in the end zone for the third time after a one-yard touchdown run.
Down 28-6 with 4:13 remaining, the Falcons found themselves in desperation mode. First play of the drive, the Falcons launched the football where defensive back Ryan Kalman got his 6th interception of the season, sealing the win to send the Bulldogs back to another sectional final.
Rumson-Fair Haven will now square off against the Raritan Rockets, another Shore Conference team (8-2) on Friday, November 11th at Raritan High School in Hazlet, New Jersey.