CLARK – What’s more impressive – the fact that Johnson held Bernards to 40 points below its scoring average or the fact that the Crusaders carried the ball 65 times for a whopping 463 yards?
That’s a 7.12 average!
You be the judge.
Not only did Johnson excel defensively in addition to running the ball quite well all night long, but the Crusaders also extended drives by obtaining first downs with a fake punt run and one when they drew Bernards off sides at the line of scrimmage.
Johnson did not punt and did not pass. The Crusaders scored touchdowns on six of eight possessions and simply did not need to throw the ball.
It all added up to a more-than-decisive 43-14 Mid-State 38 Conference-Valley Division home-opening victory over Bernards Friday night at Johnson High School’s Nolan Field.
The Crusaders, now in the program’s 61st season of football, improved to 2-0 overall and 2-0 in the Valley Division. Bernards, which was averaging an even 54 points after scoring exactly 54 points in each of its first two games, fell to 1-2 overall and 0-2 in the Valley Division.
Bernards defeated Johnson in Johnson’s season-opener the past two seasons. This was Johnson’s first win over Bernards in five years.
Johnson is 2-0 for the first time since 2007 when present athletic director Gus Kalikas was still the head coach.
“We had a great game plan and our offensive linemen mauled their defensive line,” said junior running back Joe Turek who gained 122 yards on 21 carries and scored a game-high four touchdowns, the final four that the Crusaders produced.
Senior running back Nick Fischetti led all ball-carriers with 137 yards on 12 carries. He scored Johnson’s first touchdown on a 58-yard run down the right sideline.
“I saw our line open the lane,” Fischetti said of his long run that tied the game at 6-6. “Our lanes were open the entire game.”
Johnson’s line includes junior left tackle Eddie Weingartner, who had to come out of the game with a leg injury, junior left guard Dan Olenick, senior center Michael Brennan, senior right guard Brett Roessle and senior right tackle Franco Scalzulli.
Johnson’s offense is called: Triple Option. On Friday night there were four primary options in the first half and three more in the second.
“Our skills were blocking for each other,” said senior running back Jon Duffy, who rushed for 79 yards on 11 carries, scored a touchdown and extended a drive by not punting the ball but instead running with it for 18 yards and another Johnson first down.
The Crusaders produced 20 first downs total: 11 in the first half and nine in the second.
Johnson rushed for 287 yards on 34 carries and four touchdowns in the first half and 176 on 31 and two TDs in the second.
“I thought we did a great job of just executing our offense,” said senior first-year starting quarterback Vin Crisafi.
Johnson has now outscored its first two opponents 81-14, including scoring 11 touchdowns.
“Every time we scored we just added to our momentum,” Crisafi said. “Our offense is just made to go.”
There were defensive highlights as well for the Crusaders, with Duffy in the first half and Metz in the second coming up with interceptions.
Also in the first half, junior defensive end Tom Bowen came up with a key fumble recovery after the ball was snapped past Bernards quarterback Stephen Gribben, who appeared not ready for the play.
Johnson took advantage by scoring its fourth touchdown of the first half with just five seconds remaining.
Roessle, at tackle, also made his presence felt on defense by coming up with several key solo tackles. Right after Roessle produced one of his tackles that resulted in Bernards losing six yards on a screen pass, Turek came up with a solo quarterback sack for a six-yard loss.
Johnson needed to step up defensively to come out on top. Bernards took the opening kickoff and marched 68 yards for its first touchdown.
The Mountaineers then scored again on their second possession to take their second and final lead at 15-8.
Gribben completed eight-of-10 passes for 120 yards in the first half and rushed for his team’s first score, reaching the end zone on a one-yard QB sneak.
Senior running back-wide receiver Matt Tantleff gained 46 yards on seven carries in the first half and scored the second Bernards touchdown on a 13-yard run.
Bernards opened with a 54-40 win at Shabazz, followed by a 61-54 Valley Division home loss to Roselle.
“We saw on film how great they were on offense in their first two games,” said Johnson defensive coordinator Ed Pedicine. “We needed our best effort to slow them down.”
After Bernards scored on its first two possessions, it appeared that the team that had the ball last might win. However, Johnson found a way to not yield anything else to the Mountaineers the rest of the way.
“We had to rise up and that’s what our defense did,” said Pedicine, who is a 1984 Johnson Regional graduate, who after playing for the Crusaders played collegiately at Southern Connecticut and was coached there by Kevin Gilbride.
“After they scored their touchdowns our linebackers had to get back and our safeties had to come up and be athletes,” Pedicine said. “We settled down.”
Pedicine, in his sixth year on Johnson’s staff and third as the defensive coordinator, also didn’t mind one bit seeing the Johnson offense put up the numbers it did.
“Our offense was our best defense,” Pedicine said. “Our offense did a good job of milking the clock in addition to all of the scoring.”
NOTES: Johnson’s last win over Bernards came on Nov. 5, 2011, which was a 44-34 home victory for the Crusaders that enabled them to qualify for the Central Jersey, Group 2 playoffs that season.
Johnson lost at home to Bernards 28-13 in last year’s season-opener and at Bernards 14-7 in its 2014 season-opener.
Johnson overcame 0-3 starts in each of the last two seasons to still qualify for the playoffs in CJ, G2.
Johnson goes for 3-0 next weekend when it plays at division rival Roselle on Sept. 24 at Arminio Field.
RUSHING BREAKDOWN VS. BERNARDS:
No. 15, senior RB Nick Fischetti 12-137, 1 TD
No. 28, junior RB Joe Turek 21-122, 4 TDs
No. 5, senior RB Jon Duffy 11-79, 1 TD
No. 19, senior QB Vin Crisafi 9-58
No. 32, sophomore RB Sebastian Jakouchevitch 6-34
No. 7, sophomore RB Vito Galluzzo 5-30
No. 23, junior RB Kevin Metz 1-3
Totals: 65 carries for 463 yards, 6 TDs.
MID-STATE 38 CONFERENCE-VALLEY DIVISION
Bernards (1-2, 0-2) 14 0 0 0 – 14
Johnson (2-0, 2-0) 15 14 7 7 – 43
BERNARDS: Stephen Gribben 1 run, kick failed (B 6-0)
8 plays, 68 yards, 2:39 used
JOHNSON: Nick Fischetti 58 run, Sebastian Jakouchevitch run (J 8-6)
3 plays, 73 yards, 1:02 used
BERNARDS: Matt Tantleff 13 run, Marc Murphy run (B 14-8)
6 plays, 65 yards, 2:19 used
JOHNSON: Jon Duffy 10 run, Mike Casalino kick (J 15-14)
7 plays, 61 yards, 2:41 used
JOHNSON: Joe Turek 7 run, Mike Casalino kick (J 22-14)
10 plays, 83 yards, 4:30 used
JOHNSON: Joe Turek 1 run, Mike Casalino kick (J 29-14)
4 plays, 23 yards, :23 used
Johnson capitalized on a turnover – a fumble recovery by Tom Bowen.
JOHNSON: Joe Turek 9 run, Mike Casalino kick (J 36-14)
8 plays, 45 yards, 4:20 used
JOHNSON: Joe Turek 13 run, Mike Casalino kick (J 43-14)
12 plays, 67 yards, 6:47 used