SPRINGFIELD – A game that featured two teams attempting to win on the field for the first time this season turned a bit more one-sided than the home team would have liked once a certain player was given the ball.
Manville gave junior running back Nasir Peek the pigskin and off he went. He reached the end zone on a 90-yard run in the second quarter. His third and final touchdown was a 51-yarder.
Peek carred the ball just 11 times, but rushed for 212 yards to help lead the Mustangs to a convincing 31-0 triumph over Dayton in Friday night’s Mid-State Conference-Union Division game at Dayton High School’s turf field.
Manville improved to 1-6 overall and finished its Union Division slate at 1-5. The Mustangs will quickly move to 2-6 after receiving a forfeit win over Highland Park next week. Highland Park dropped varsity football this year after one game due to a lack of healthy players.
Dayton fell to 2-5 overall and is now 1-4 in the Union Division, with its final division game being at home against South Hunterdon next Friday night.
Dayton fifth-year head coach Dominic Cuniglio said that the Bulldogs will play a consolation game to end their season following the South Hunterdon contest.
Manville reached the end zone for the first of four times and took the lead for good the second time it had the ball. Starting from its own 20, Peek gained 16 yards along the right side and then sophomore running back Jonathan Cox 14 more up the middle. Two plays later, junior quarterback John Sharbaugh connected with a wide open senior tight end Gabriel Van Buren for a 35-yard touchdown pass. Zach Rojas followed with the first of his three extra points.
Dayton held Manville to without a first down on its next possession. However, the next time the Mustangs had the ball they struck rather fast.
On first and 10 from the Manville 10, Peek went up the middle, broke contain and then found an opening on the left side. He proceeded to race down the left sideline for a 90-yard touchdown run that made the score 13-0.
Peek also scored on a three-yard run later in the second quarter and then sped down the right sideline in the third for a 51-yard touchdown scamper.
Dayton had mild success running the ball, but couldn’t put together a drive that culminated with the Bulldogs reaching the end zone. Late in the first half after starting at the Manville 29 following a botched punt, a four-play drive was halted after a pass intended for Mike Kanarek in the end zone fell incomplete. Kanarek did come down with one reception in the second half.
Dayton senior defensive back Aeneus Brown produced an interception at his own 15-yard line on the final play of the second quarter.
Dayton received the second half kickoff and immediately moved the ball, with backs Robert Spagnola, Justin Mascitelli and Juan Perez finding room up the middle. However, on second-and-four from the Manville 22, Dayton fumbled the exchange, with Manville defensive end Isaiah Ruiz there to recover.
“We came out in the second half and moved the ball and then had the turnover,” Cuniglio said. “Had we been able to score there we could have made it a two-possession game and changed the momentum. Unfortunately for us we weren’t able to.”
Manville answered with its final score. On first-and-10 from its own 49, Peek went through the line and then all the way into the end zone for the third and final time.
“We knew he was going to have to be stopped,” Cuniglio said. “He proved to be quite elusive.”
Van Buren and Peek came up with interceptions in the second half.
Dayton 6-4 sophomore defensive lineman Daniel Munoz made several solo tackles, many of them for losses.
This has not been an easy season by any stretch of the imagination for Dayton, but the Bulldogs keep on hanging in there. Again, next week, Dayton will seek its first win on the field since late last September.
“We’re still really learning,” Cuniglio said.
Friday night was also Seniors Night for Dayton, with 1-Aeneus Brown, 2-Robert Spagnola, 10-John Madden, 11-Dan Madden, 14-Will Brandstatter, 16-JonLouis Fonseca and 79-Ben Chervinsky being recognized.
“We opted to play a varsity schedule and the kids are playing to the best of their ability,” Cuniglio said. “We have six seniors who have played four years and they were honored tonight.
“We didn’t succumb to a JV schedule and ruin it for our seniors. We’ve played hard, yes against a Group 1 schedule, but the other Group 1 teams we’ve gone up against have been far more experienced.”
MID-STATE CONFERENCE-UNION DIVISION
Manville (1-6, 1-5) 07 16 08 00 – 31
Dayton (2-5, 1-4) 00 00 00 00 – 00
Manville – Gabriel Van Buren 35 pass from John Sharbaugh,
Zach Rojas kick (M 7-0)
7 plays, 80 yards, 3:48 used
Manville – Nasir Peek 90 run, Zach Rojas kick (M 14-0)
1 play, 90 yards, :20 used
Manville – Safety, Dayton punter David Ares falls on ball in end zone
Manville – Nasir Peek 3 run, Zach Rojas kick (M 23-0)
4 plays, 34 yards, 1:54 used
Manville – Nasir Peek 51 run, John Sharbaugh run (M 31-0)
3 plays, 76 yards, 1:03 used