Rumson-Fair Haven hands Colts Neck first gridiron loss of 2020

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Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School running back John Volker runs through Colts Neck's Matt Scully for a first down during a game played on Nov. 14 in Colts Neck. Volker rushed for 110 yards and a touchdown in the team's 28-14 victory over Colts Neck.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Colts Neck High School running back Joe Barsky runs up the gut during the team's contest against Rumson-Fair Haven on Nov. 14 in Colts Neck. Barksy recorded his 20th rushing touchdown of the season in the contest for Colts Neck.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School wide receiver Patrick Jamin returns the punt up the field during the team's game against Colts Neck on Nov. 14 in Colts Neck. Jamin caught two touchdown passes in the team's fifth victory of the season.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Colts Neck High School wide receiver Matt Scully fights through a group of Rumson-Fair Haven defenders for a first down during a game played on Nov. 14 in Colts Neck. Scully caught his second touchdown pass of the season in the contest for the Cougars.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School running back Geoffrey Schroeder dives forward for a first down during the team's game against Colts Neck on Nov. 14 in Colts Neck. Schoreder had a rushing touchdown to help Rumson-Fair Haven defeat Colts Neck 28-14 and improve to 5-2 on the season.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Colts Neck High School quarterback Tommy Fallon throws a six-yard pass to wide receiver Matt Scully for a first down during the team's game against Rumson-Fair Haven on Nov. 14 in Colts Neck. The Cougars are 6-1 on the season. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School running back John Volker runs through Colts Neck's Matt Scully for a first down during a game played on Nov. 14 in Colts Neck. Volker rushed for 110 yards and a touchdown in the team's 28-14 victory over Colts Neck.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Colts Neck High School running back Joe Barsky runs up the gut during the team's contest against Rumson-Fair Haven on Nov. 14 in Colts Neck. Barksy recorded his 20th rushing touchdown of the season in the contest for Colts Neck.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School wide receiver Patrick Jamin returns the punt up the field during the team's game against Colts Neck on Nov. 14 in Colts Neck. Jamin caught two touchdown passes in the team's fifth victory of the season.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Colts Neck High School wide receiver Matt Scully fights through a group of Rumson-Fair Haven defenders for a first down during a game played on Nov. 14 in Colts Neck. Scully caught his second touchdown pass of the season in the contest for the Cougars.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School running back Geoffrey Schroeder dives forward for a first down during the team's game against Colts Neck on Nov. 14 in Colts Neck. Schoreder had a rushing touchdown to help Rumson-Fair Haven defeat Colts Neck 28-14 and improve to 5-2 on the season.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Colts Neck High School quarterback Tommy Fallon throws a six-yard pass to wide receiver Matt Scully for a first down during the team's game against Rumson-Fair Haven on Nov. 14 in Colts Neck. The Cougars are 6-1 on the season. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF

The Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School and Colts Neck High School football teams squared off in one of the two match-ups in the Shore Conference second postseason pod on Nov. 14 in Colts Neck.

Two first-quarter touchdowns put Rumson-Fair Haven in control and led to the Bulldogs (5-2) beating the undefeated Cougars, 28-14.

Colts Neck fell to 6-1.

The new playoff format for 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic did not change the perception of the season for the Bulldogs, who have been state sectional finalists for seven consecutive years and have won five sectional championships and one state title.

“Our kids come ready to play every day,” Coach Jerry Schulte said. “It’s a tribute to the program. These kids hung in there. We have great kids and outstanding coaches.”

The Bulldogs scored on the game’s first possession when junior running back Geoffrey Schroeder scampered to the end zone for a 19-yard touchdown run. The PAT made it 7-0.

After forcing Colts Neck to punt, the Bulldogs struck again. Senior quarterback Josh Harmon found wide receiver Patrick Jamin for the first of their two scores on a 22-yard TD pass with 3:12 to play in the first quarter.

It was Harmon’s first touchdown pass in two weeks and his first to Jamin since the first game of the season.

“It felt great to have that connection again,” Harmon said. “We were pretty much pounding the ball on the ground the whole game and sprinkling in those little play action plays definitely hit big. I just made sure I made my reads properly and Patrick (Jamin) was wide open both times.”

Colts Neck answered early in the second quarter. On fourth and five, junior quarterback Tommy Fallon sprinted to his left and fired a pass to senior wide receiver Matt Scully, who tiptoed up the sideline and into the end zone for his second touchdown of the season. The PAT cut the Bulldogs’ lead to 14-7.

Fallon has five touchdown passes in 2020.

The Bulldogs came right back to reclaim a two-touchdown lead with senior running John Volker leading the charge. On third and 10, Volker caught the ball in the flat and turned a short gain into a 32-yard completion to bring the Bulldogs to the Cougars’ 2.

The pass play led to Volker’s 14th rushing touchdown of the season one play later as he barrelled in from the 2 with 3:38 to play in the half. The PAT made it 21-7.

Volker rushed 26 times for 110 yards in the victory and has rushed for 1,016 yards in 2020.

“We trusted the fact that we were bigger and stronger and faster, so it was more of a ground and pound kind of approach,” Volker said. “I really have to hand it to my offensive lineman. They play their hearts out for me every play. I can’t take credit for all my touchdowns this year without their hard work.”

Colts Neck answered the Bulldogs’ third score with a six play, 75-yard touchdown drive. Fallon engineered a perfect two-minute drive, completing three passes, his last one a 33-yard strike to senior tight end Chris Montefusco to bring the ball inside the 10.

Senior running back Joe Barsky found the end zone for the 20th time this season two plays later, powering his way in for a four-yard touchdown run with :53 left in the half to cut the Bulldogs’ lead to 21-14.

”We needed that drive,” Colts Neck Coach Matt Ahearn said. “We made some plays and started believing at that point. That was good.”

The Bulldogs carried their 21-14 lead into the fourth quarter. After forcing a punt, the Bulldogs took possession at the Cougars’ 28 with 7:19 to play.

Looking to put the game out of reach, Harmon came up with the play Rumson-Fair Haven needed to secure the victory. On fourth and five from the 12, he got a play call from his coaches that he later said he could not help but be excited about.

Harmon knew he could execute the play and did just that. The senior quarterback rolled to his left off play action and fired a pass to a wide open Jamin in the end zone for the touchdown. The PAT made it 28-14 with 4:16 to play.

Harmon threw for 91 yards in the win and has eight touchdown passes in 2020. Jamin has four touchdown receptions to lead the team in that category.

“Going out there and not turning the ball over and playing hard for my teammates was a lot of fun,” Harmon said. “We are just lucky to be out here playing. We didn’t know if we were going to be able to, so we just came out here and played every play like it’s our last. I’m just happy I was able to lift up my teammates and be there for them.”

Senior defensive back Ryan Ruane closed out the victory with his third interception of the season in the final minute of the contest.

The Bulldogs will look to win the playoff pod on Nov. 20 when they host Freehold High School.

Harmon and Volker said finishing the season with three straight wins would mean a lot to the senior class and the program for everything they have gone through to have a season this fall.

“I think it would be a great and poetic way to end it,” Volker said. “We are a resilient team. I think it would be great for our seniors to win out.”

The Cougars will try to end the season on a winning note when they play Southern Regional High School on Nov. 20

Ahearn is looking for his players to “win the week” and learn from their mistakes against Rumson-Fair Haven.

“We always strive to execute,” Ahearn said. “We have to get better at what we have to do and hopefully it opens these guys’ eyes to what they can do.”