The Game At A Glance: Carteret came back from a 12-0 halftime deficit to score 13 unanswered points and beat Weequahic, 13-12, to win the Central Jersey Group 2 championship.
First Half Highlights: After forcing Carteret to turn the ball over on downs, Weequahic began a drive from its own 39.The Indians picked up three first downs, keeping everything on the ground. With fourth and one on the eight, a false start penalty moved them back five yards and then their first pass attempt of the drive fell incomplete. Carteret struck quickly on a screen to Jerrod Johnson for 26 yards to their 47, but eventually punted, when Weequahic's Akrum Wadley fielded the punt on his 18 and raced 82 yards through the field for a touchdown to make it 6-0, as the extra point attempt failed.
Weequahic and Wadley struck again early in the second quarter when he went 35 yards for another score, running to the right, before cutting across the field. The two point run was unsuccessful and the Indians led 12-0, with eight minutes left in the half. After forcing a Carteret three and out, Weequahic looked like they were ready to open up some distance. They took over on their 47 with seven minutes left and held the ball for the rest of the half. The Indians went fifteen plays, picking up four first downs, with two of them caused by pass interference penalties. They had first and goal from the seven with a little over a minute left and made it as far as the two, but ran out of time because they were out of timeouts.
Second Half Highlights: Carteret's defense forced a Weequahic punt to start the second half and took over on their 35. Jerod Johnson started things off with an 18 yard run and the Ramblers made a big play when a deflected Tyler Rodriguez pass sailed into the hands of Elijah Torres for 26 yards down to the five. Two plays later, Rodriguez found Naji Johnson on the swing pass for a six yard score and it was 12-7, with five and a half minutes left in the quarter. The Ramblers forced another punt and started on their own 20. Rodriguez began connecting on some big passes, including one to Brandon Gilder for 31 yards to the nine for first and goal. Two plays later, Naji Johnson crashed through the middle for the score and the Ramblers led for the first time, 13-12, one minute into the final quarter.
The teams traded drives and Weequahic had one last chance on its 29 with a minute to go. Kedar Clarke found Wadley for eleven yards for a first down to their 47, but they fumbled on the following play and Carteret recovered.
Play Of The Game: The tipped pass caught by Flores, setting up the first touchdown and giving Carteret life.
Game Balls: I will give this one to the entire Carteret team, who refused to lose. If I were to give to any, it would be the four veterans: Tyler Rodriguez, Jerod Johnson, Naji Johnson, and Dan SanFilippo.
Carteret head coach Matt Yascko - "Our four leaders were huge. Tyler Rodriguez was making plays for us. Naji Johnson was a big part of the offense, scoring two touchdowns. Jerod Johnson ran for some tough, hard yards. He wasn't able to get some long ones, like we're used to, but he stayed consistent and got what we needed to do, play after play. Dan SanFilippo has been a big part of our team as a three year starter. The punt return hurt us. We were worried about kicking the ball to Wadley, we didn't want to do it, and then he breaks the long punt return, giving them a lot of momentum. We calmed the kids down at halftime, didn't make any amazing coaching discoveries, and we went back to what we talked about, Monday through Thursday. The kids just started making plays, more than anything. Weequahic has tremendous athletes and they put pressure on you. They get on the edge and make people miss. I was happy our kids tackled and wrapped up. Nothing can be better than 12-0, that's for sure."
Carteret linebacker Dan SanFilippo - "I dreamed about this day all my life. I watched my older brother win one (in 2007) and it means so much to me. We stayed focused and kept telling one another 'I believe'. Those two words stayed in my head and we got it done. We had to keep playing when we had the lead. Weequahic is a good team and Akrum Wadley is a good football player. I give him a lot of respect and to their team, but I'm happy we won."
Carteret tailback Jerod Johnson - "It's a great feeling right now. I can't believe it. They came out stronger than us. We were upset about that and wanted to come out in the second half playing the football we can play, and we got the job done."
Carteret fullback Naji Johnson - "We just went in the locker room and stayed together. All the hard work paid off. We just worked so hard through the off-season. From the loss in our last game to Perth Amboy on Thanksgiving, we were out working hard the next day. We just had to smell blood today. Our coaches have been preaching that. It feels great right now, but I just can't explain it."
Carteret quarterback/defensive back Tyler Rodriguez - "Coach said this has been four years in the making. We finally did it and it came down to working hard. Coach told us we deserve it. We came out a little slow, couldn't get the running game going, and were one dimensional. In the second half, we came out and bought more pressure and I had to step up. When we had the lead, it was a sigh of relief, but we knew it wasn't over, and we kept playing hard."