Central Jersey Game of the Week: Ingram sparks Mater Dei in victory over Saint John Vianney

The Mater Dei Prep football offense prepares to run a play during pregame warmups at Saint John Vianney High School on Sept. 27.
The Mater Dei Prep football offense prepares to run a play during pregame warmups at Saint John Vianney High School on Sept. 27.

On the first play from scrimmage on Sept. 27, Malik Ingram was dropped behind the line for a loss.

It was the only time he would be stopped all night.

Ingram rushed for 326 yards and four touchdowns at Saint John Vianney High School, leading Mater Dei Prep to a 35-0 football victory over a previously unbeaten Lancers team.

Mater Dei’s standout running back ripped off a 19-yard touchdown and a 16-yard touchdown in the first half, and then one-yard and two-yard scores in the second half. He powered a Seraphs offense that picked up 17 first downs and scored touchdowns on five of its eight possessions.

“It was fun,” Ingram said, smiling. “Just a lot of fun.”

Mater Dei, the No. 1 team in the Central Jersey Top 10, improved to 4-0 with yet another dominant victory. The Seraphs have outscored their opponents 171-20.

Saint John Vianney fell to 2-1 with the loss on its home turf in Holmdel, but the Lancers still look like a solid team. They beat their first two opponents of 2019, Middletown High School South and Brick Township High School, 35-7 and 45-21, respectively.

The Lancers will try to get back on track on Oct. 4 at Jackson Memorial High School. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

The Sept. 27 game probably told us more about the Seraphs than the Lancers. Mater Dei, and Ingram especially, have been unstoppable in 2019.

In four games, Ingram has carried the ball 51 times for 604 yards and nine touchdowns. His yards per carry average is 11.8.

The 5-7, 200-pound senior is built like a state champion wrestler, and he is the kind of back who seeks out defenders to bowl them over. But he also frequently spins out of traffic and uses his breakaway speed in the open field.

Ingram has been so dominant this fall that he has barely had to play in the fourth quarter. Sept. 27 was the first time he played in the fourth quarter all season. Mater Dei only led 21-0 going into the fourth and still had to put the game away.

Naturally, Ingram was the one who did that by walking in for a two-yard touchdown with 10:15 to go.

Seemingly every media outlet that covers Jersey Shore high school football sent reporters to the Mater Dei-Saint John Vianney showdown, and they surrounded Ingram after the game. He was the rare high school athlete with his own scrum.

“How’d it feel to play in the fourth, Malik?” they all asked.

Ingram smiled, raised his eyebrows and looked down at the ground. He knew they were right and appreciated the hat tip, but he didn’t want to disrespect his opponents, either.

“It felt good to play all four quarters and get a full experience of the game,” he said. “We just stayed humble throughout the week and came out and played.”

Ingram is Mater Dei’s best player, but the Seraphs are a complete team. Their defense earned its second shutout of the season against Saint John Vianney, forcing an offense that came in averaging 40 points per game to punt five times, throw an interception and turn the ball over on downs.

Mater Dei also recorded four sacks, with Dom Giudice and Khurram Simpson each getting two.

“It’s going good so far,” Giudice said.

Mater Dei will try to improve to 5-0 on Oct. 5 at home in Middletown against Wall High School. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.