KENILWORTH – Faced with the prospect of falling to their neighborhood arch rival for a fourth time in three seasons, the Brearley Bears needed to shore up defensively in the second half Friday night if a comeback win at Ward Field was to be produced.
Brearley gave up 22, 47 and 41 points in its first three games and then fell behind by double digits to Roselle Park after the first 24 minutes.
However, in the second half the Bears limited the Panthers to less than 100 yards of total offense and – more importantly – prevented Roselle Park from reaching the end zone.
A defense that swarmed to the ball in much more accurate fashion – including a big blocked punt – was bolstered by an offense that scored three touchdowns in the final 24 minutes.
Brearley scored 20 unanswered points in the second half Friday night for a come-from-behind 34-24 Mid-State 38 Conference-Valley Division triumph over Roselle Park.
“The difference was that we needed to play a little defense in the second half,” Brearley head coach Scott Miller said. “At halftime we said that we couldn’t let them score again if we were to win.”
Brearley, which defeated Roselle Park for the first time since 2011, won its second straight to improve to 3-1 overall and 3-1 in the Valley Division. Roselle Park, which defeated Brearley in 2012 for the first time since 2001 and then last year downed the Bears in the regular season and the North 2, Group 1 playoffs, lost for the second straight time to fall to 1-2 overall and 1-2 in the Valley Division.
Brearley is 3-1 for the first time since 2010. The last time the Bears got off to a 3-1 start and made the playoffs was 2009, which was the last season Brearley won a playoff game. The Bears reached the Central Jersey, Group 1 semifinals that season.
Against Roselle Park Friday night, Brearley took its second lead and the advantage for good early in the fourth quarter when senior running back David Eskin scored from five yards out to put the Bears up 27-24.
Eskin carried the ball 33 times for 138 yards and two touchdowns, including 23 times for 87 yards in the second half and both of his scores.
He has rushed for close to 600 yards already this season.
“Our offensive line did a pretty good job and David benefited,” Miller said. “Roselle Park was putting nine in the box.”
Brearley scored the game’s first points on its third play from scrimmage, with junior wide receiver Brian Resende reaching the end zone on the left side from 23 yards out.
Roselle Park came right back to tie the game on its next possession, with the big play of the drive a 29-yard pass from junior quarterback Joe Woods to 6-5, 210-pound senior wide receiver Yuri Brutus, who had nearly a foot advantage in height over Brearley senior cornerback Anthony Corbisiero, who stands at 5-9, 155.
Brutus also caught a pass for 50 yards in the first half, but then caught only one other ball, that one coming late in the game for a small gain.
“Anthony had pretty good coverage, but the kid used his height and their quarterback threw a pretty good ball,” Miller said.
Roselle Park recovered a fumble on its own five to halt a Brearley drive in the second quarter. The Panthers then proceeded to march 95 yards en route to scoring a go-ahead touchdown. The key play was a 53-yard gain by Woods on third-and-nine from the Roselle Park 36. Corbisiero made a touchdown-saving tackle.
On the very next play, Roselle Park senior running back Jayson Gonzalez scored the first of his game-high three touchdowns, all of them coming in the first half. Gonzalez rushed for 73 yards on 10 carries in the first half, but was held to much less in the second.
Brearley answered Roselle Park’s first two touchdowns with a 32-yard rushing score by junior quarterback Sebastian Montesdeoca that tied the game at 14-14.
Three plays later, Roselle Park took its second lead when Gonzalez scored on a 15-yard run one play after the catch Brutus made on the right side for 50 yards.
Brearley reached the Roselle Park 34 on its next drive, but then Andrew Casamento was intercepted by Roselle Park speedy senior defensive back George Perez, who returned the ball to the Panther 23. Casamento caught a screen pass on the right side from Woods and attempted to reach Resende in the end zone. However, Perez stepped in front of Resende to grab the pass that was under thrown.
Perez made another big play just two plays later. Following a sack for a seven-yard loss by Brearley junior lineman Erik Loneker, Perez found a big hole, ran right through it and then down the left sideline.
Brearley’s Emmanuel Salado caught up with Perez and tackled him on what turned out to be a 76-yard rush. Two plays after that, Roselle Park’s Valentino Ambrosio kicked a 25-yard field goal on the final play of the second quarter to put the Panthers up 24-14 at intermission.
Roselle Park produced 291 yards of total offense in the first half, 212 rushing on 23 carries and 79 passing on Woods going two-for-two. Perez led all rushers in the first half with 98 yards on nine caries.
Also in the first half, Montesdeoca carried six times for 51 yards and his one score. He also completed seven-of-eight passes, including his first seven, for 64 yards.
Brearley produced 201 yards of total offense in the first 24 minutes, 137 on 20 carries rushing and 64 yards passing on seven-of-nine passes completed.
Brearley’s first touchdown in the second half was a pass of 30 yards Montesdeoca threw to an open junior wide receiver Andrew Soria.
As many as five different Brearley receivers caught passes in the first half. In addition to Soria there was captain Edward Palmadessa, tight end Nicholas Arcieri, tight end Joseph Locorriere and Resende.
NOTES: Brearley has now scored 84 points in its last two games and 136 in four for an average of 34.
“We know what we can do offensively,” Miller said. “Scoring three touchdowns in the second half tonight was big.”
It was announced that sophomore Daniel Palumbo got credit for blocking a Roselle Park punt in the fourth quarter. That led to Brearley’s and the game’s final score.
MID-STATE 38 CONFERENCE-VALLEY DIVISION GAME
ROSELLE PARK (1-2, 1-2) 7 17 0 0 – 24
BREARLEY (3-1, 3-1) 7 7 7 13 – 34
Brearley – Brian Resende 23 run, Nicholas Arcieri kick, (B 7-0)
3 plays, 51 yards, :56 used
Roselle Park – Jayson Gonzalez 11 run, Valentino Ambrosio kick (7-7)
10 plays, 67 yards, 4:20 used
Roselle Park – Jayson Gonzalez 11 run, Valentino Ambrosio kick
6 plays, 95 yards, 2:30 used
Capitalized on turnover – a fumble recovery by the defense.
Brearley – Sebastian Montesdeoca 32 run, Nicholas Arcieri kick (14-14)
4 plays, 64 yards, 1:15 used
Roselle Park – Jayson Gonzalez 15 run, Valentino Ambrosio kick
3 plays, 65 yards, :55 used
Roselle Park – FG Valentino Ambrosio 25 (RP 24-14)
4 plays, from own 23 to Brearley 8, 1:15 used
Brearley – Andrew Soria 30 pass from Sebastian Montesdeoca,
Nicholas Arcieri kick (RP 24-21)
10 plays, 55 yards, 4:26 used
Brearley – David Eskin 5 run, kick failed (B 27-24)
11 plays, 38 yards, 6:01 used
Brearley – David Eskin 14 run, Nicholas Arcieri kick (B 34-24)
8 plays, 46 yards, 3:26 used
UNION COUNTY SCOREBOARD
FRIDAY NIGHT, OCT. 3
Brearley 34, Roselle Park 24 – at Brearley
Johnson 28, Gov. Livingston 21 (OT) – at GL
Bernards 35, Rahway 13 – at Rahway
Immaculata 42, Plainfield 14 – at Immaculata
Roselle 34, Delaware Valley 29 – at Delaware Valley