SPRINGFIELD – After suffering a tough setback in their season-opener, the Dayton Bulldogs knew their next effort needed to be ratcheted up if they were to come out on top.
That meant moving the chains on offense and getting more pressure on the quarterback on defense.
Dayton did both quickly and – in the end – just enough to post its first win of the season.
The Bulldogs took the lead for good in the third quarter by registering a safety and scored a second touchdown in the fourth quarter en route to a decisive 16-7 Mid-State 38 Conference-Valley Division victory over visiting Bound Brook Friday night.
Dayton evened its overall record at 1-1 and is now 1-0 in the Valley Division. The Bulldogs opened with a 12-7 loss at Mountain Division foe Hillside.
For new Dayton mentor Dominic Cuniglio it was his first win as a head coach.
“It feels great,” Cuniglio said. “The first one’s always the toughest. Now we have to keep improving if we want to get more.”
Bound Brook fell to 1-1 overall and 1-1 in the Valley Division. The Crusaders opened with a 14-7 home win over Manville.
Dayton stopped Bound Brook on fourth down to prevent the Crusaders from keeping the ball on their first possession and then went down the field to score its first touchdown.
That seemed to set the tone for Dayton, which proved to be one step ahead of Bound Brook for most of the game.
“After losing to Hillside we felt like we needed to come out here and gain redemption,” said Dayton senior quarterback John Apicella, who threw a touchdown pass to Antonio Salcfas in the first quarter and then ran for a score in the fourth. “We wanted this win more than anything.”
Apicella completed 16-of-22 passes for 130 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. He also carried the ball 15 times for 13 yards.
At the half, Bound Brook rushed for 82 yards and passed for 18, while Dayton rushed for six and passed for 76.
Three runs got Bound Brook to the 50 on its first possession. On fourth-and-inches, Dayton stacked up senior running back Aaron Saavedra for a one-yard loss, preventing the Crusaders from getting the first down.
Leading the way on the gang-tackle were Dayton defensive standouts Mike Iuliano and Justin Torain.
“We came together as a team,” Iuliano said. “It starts with play-calling and (defensive coordinator) Coach (Bob) Martin was on his game.”
“Our defense has been phenomenal since the pre-season,” Cuniglio said. “We put the game plan in Monday and these kids executed it.”
Dayton answered by marching 49 yards in eight plays, mixing the run with the pass to keep Bound Brook off balance. Apicella completed screens to senior wide receiver TJ Kanarek for seven and 16 yards and then Bound Brook was called for roughing the passer, giving Dayton a first down at the Crusader 13.
Kanarek caught a game-high six passes for 45 yards.
Apicella next ran up the middle for four yards and then senior running back Jon Turner gained three. After a six-yard loss by Apicella as the result of a sack by Bound Brook senior lineman Colin Roach, Dayton was faced with a fourth-and-nine at the Crusader 12.
That prompted a Dayton timeout with exactly four minutes to go in the quarter.
Back on the field, Dayton went with a pass play, with Apicella moving to his left. This time he found Salcfas on the left side of the field, with the 5-7 freshman beating single coverage and grabbing the pass in the end zone for the game’s first points.
Following a Dayton three-and-out, Bound Brook took over at its own 25 with 2:30 left in the first half. A 25-yard run by Bound Brook senior Sean Glasgow – he carried nine times for 83 yards in the first half – coupled with a Dayton face mask penalty put the ball at the Dayton 26.
Four plays later, Bound Brook senior lefty quarterback Daniel Leinbach completed a five-yard touchdown pass over the middle to senior running back Davian Williams as Bound Brook tied the game at 7-7 with 32 seconds remaining before halftime.
“There wasn’t really much to adjust at the half,” Cuniglio said. “Our mentality of playing is fast. It’s playing fast without thinking.
“We want to dominate, plug away and wear our opponents down.”
When the third quarter commenced, Dayton held Bound Brook to just three plays and then reached the Crusader 10 before a fourth down pass by Apicella intended for Andrew Lashuk in the right corner of the end zone was just a bit overthrown.
Bound Brook then had to punt out of its end zone on fourth-and-17, with junior punter Daniel Friend first dropping the punt and then falling on the ball in the end zone for a safety, which gave Dayton the lead for good at 9-7.
With 11 minutes to go, the Bulldogs began at their own eight. On first down, Turner took the handoff to the right, sprinted through a huge hole and raced down the sideline, only to be stopped after a 74-yard gain to the Bound Brook 18. Apicella scored the game’s final touchdown four plays later.
“That was the first time were had Turner out on the perimeter,” Cuniglio said. “It was an option play and when he (Turner) gets ahead he can really run.”
Dayton junior Noah Goldberg came up with an interception in the fourth quarter and did a fine job of punting, including a 39-yarder to the Bound Brook one-yard line right before the game’s conclusion.
Iuliano forced a fourth quarter fumble, with Dayton junior lineman Saverio Salcfas recovering.
Dayton first half sacks were recorded by Turner for a seven-yard loss and Iuliano for a five-yard setback.
MID-STATE 38 CONFERENCE-VALLEY DIVISION GAME
BOUND BROOK (1-1, 1-1) 0 7 0 0 – 7
DAYTON (1-1, 1-0) 7 0 2 7 – 16
DAYTON – Antonio Salcfas 12 pass from John Apicella,
Andrew Lashuk kick (D 7-0)
8 plays, 49 yards, 3:30 used
BOUND BROOK – Davian Williams 5 pass from Daniel Leinbach,
Aaron Saavedra kick (7-7)
8 plays, 75 yards, 1:58 used
DAYTON – Safety, Bound Brook punter falls on ball in end zone (D 9-7)
DAYTON – John Apicella 2 run, Andrew Lashuk kick (D 16-7)
4 plays, 92 yards, 2:20 used
UNION COUNTY SCOREBOARD
FRIDAY NIGHT, SEPT. 19
Union 34, Franklin 28 – at Franklin
Elizabeth 35, Hunterdon Central 21 – at Hunterdon Central
Dayton 16, Bound Brook 7 – at Dayton
South Hunterdon 47, Brearley 25 – at South Hunterdon
Belvidere 12, New Providence 10 – at New Providence
Voorhees 32, Johnson 26 – at Johnson
Warren Hills 35, Rahway 13 – at Warren Hills
Cranford 48. Somerville 12 – at Somerville