BRICK TOWNSHIP – Nothing was clicking for the Howell High School football team and its offense heading into the final five minutes of the fourth quarter in a road game at Brick Township High School on Sept. 17.
The Rebels were losing 12-0 and they had not come close to driving inside the Green Dragons’ 20 yard line all night. But when the defense stopped Brick on downs at the Green Dragons’ 43 with 4:15 to play, Howell’s offense found a spark.
Senior quarterback Stephen Jardim hit wide receiver Jack Gartenstein with a pass over the middle for a 36-yard reception to move the ball inside the 10.
Two plays later, Jardim connected with tight end Damian Padilla in the back of the end zone for an eight-yard touchdown pass. Christian Fontes kicked the extra point and the score was 12-7 with 2:40 to play.
TOUCHDOWN HOWELL! Rebels get back in the game with 2:40 to play. 8-yard TD from Stephen Jardim to Damian Padilla. Extra point is good! Howell down 12-7. CC: @central_jersey @HHSRebelSports @howell_club @BravermanHHS #NJFootball 🏈 pic.twitter.com/3NjHpIhYxw
— Steven Bassin (@SBassin_Sports) September 18, 2021
The Rebels tried an onside kick, but did not recover the ball and Brick took over at its own 47. Howell’s defense stopped the Green Dragons and the Rebels used their timeouts to eventually force a punt.
Howell got the ball back with 1:26 to play at its 8 yard line. Jardim completed two passes and scrambled for 15 yards as the Rebels crossed midfield. A holding penalty pushed the Rebels back into their own territory with under :20 left.
Jardim got the offense to the line, but Brick’s Tyler Weisneck ended the Rebels’ attempted comeback when he sacked Jardim on a safety blitz off the edge to end the game.
With the loss, Howell fell to 0-2 in 2021. In their opening game, the Rebels lost to Brick Memorial High School, also of Brick Township, 32-27, on Sept. 2.
“This is a tough start,” Coach Bill Hill said after the game. “Both Brick schools are established programs. We competed against both of them really well to the end. We just have to keep getting better each week.”
Hill said he knows his players are trying their best on the field and he commended them for their comeback effort in the fourth quarter.
“They are fighting hard,” the coach said. “It’s little mistakes we are making. They are playing hard. We just have to go back and watch the film and try to get better next week.”
In addition to his touchdown reception, Padilla also had an interception against the Green Dragons.
HALFTIME: Damian Padilla gets Howell just want they needed with an INT on the final play of the half. Brick Township leads Howell 6-0. CC: @central_jersey @HHSRebelSports @BravermanHHS @howell_club #NJFootball 🏈 pic.twitter.com/lEc5NWHmtX
— Steven Bassin (@SBassin_Sports) September 17, 2021
Howell will host Middletown North High School on Sept. 24 and then visit Lacey High School on Oct. 1.
Hill said the Rebels will need to be ready to play “physical football” against both of those teams. He said every game Howell plays this season will be a battle.
“It’s the Shore Conference. Everybody can play,” the coach said.