RAHWAY – Rahway’s first 5-0 start in 35 years is no surprise to standout senior middle linebacker Qualil Lumpkins, always among the team’s leading tacklers.
“On defense we keep things simple and just try to fly around,” Lumpkins said. “A big thanks goes to Coach (Lou) Urbano (Rahway’s defensive coordinator).”
Rahway’s only given up seven touchdowns so far this year. Cranford scored twice against the Indians Friday night, but it wasn’t nearly enough.
That’s because the Indians are averaging 48 points.
In Friday’s Mid-State Conference non-division clash at Rahway River Park, host Rahway scored touchdowns the first four times it had the ball and led from start to finish en route to producing a convincing 46-14 triumph over Cranford.
Rahway improved to 5-0 for the first time since 1984 and will now begin preparation for next Friday night’s huge Mountain Division game at Somerville.
Rahway leads the Mountain Division at 3-0, while Somerville is tied with Warren Hills for second at 3-1. Somerville improved to 5-1 overall Friday night by defeating Warren Hills 50-17 at home.
Last week defending Mountain Division champion Somerville lost for only the second time in the regular season since 2016, downed at Mountain Division foe Summit 23-16. Somerville’s only other regular season setback since 2016 came at home to Rahway 27-6 in 2017.
Rahway returns next Friday night, seeking to down Somerville on the road once again to remain first in the Mountain Division.
“We just have to stay hungry,” Lumpkins said. “We just have to continue to take the season one game at a time, always looking forward.”
Rahway received three rushing touchdowns from Brayden Pierre-Louis and one from Rashon Bradford in the first half and Ashan Harris in the second.
Nasir Arribas completed touchdown passes to Pierre-Louis and senior end Mark Bails in the first half.
Arribas completed eight-of-15 passes for 151 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
Bradford rushed for 93 yards on 13 carries, with 83 yards and his score produced in the first half. He sprinted up the middle for a 37-yard run to close Rahway’s initial drive and score the game’s first six points.
Harris carried the ball five times for 53 yards in the second half, including a five-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
Pierre-Louis gained 39 yards on three carries in the second half and scored his final two rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
Tahlee Bailey combined for sacks with Emari Guillette and Mekhi Boyd, while Boyd also produced a solo one as Rahway applied heavy pressure on Cranford senior quarterback Connor Katz throughout.
Among the tackles that Lumpkins made was one of Katz for a four-yard loss early in the second quarter.
Kevin Martin recovered a fumble for the Indians that led to their second score and a 13-0 advantage before Cranford reached the scoreboard.
Cranford, which leads the Mid-State’s Raritan Division at 3-0, fell to 3-2. Its other loss was at home to Somerville 40-7.
Katz rushed for 113 yards in the first half, with most of his success up the middle, on 19 carries. He scored Cranford’s final touchdown on a six-yard run in the second quarter.
Katz threw over the middle to Michael Kalnins and then Kalnins broke a tackle and raced to the end zone for a 39-yard touchdown reception for Cranford’s first points.
Katz completed 10-of-17 passes for 182 yards and one touchdown. He also completed a pass early in the third quarter to Arjun Petgrave that was good for a 72-yard gain.
Katz closed the first half with a long, high punt that after bouncing forward was good for 56 yards at the Rahway four-yard line.
Senior defensive back Thomas Korzeneski produced Cranford’s second half interception.
MID-STATE CONFERENCE NON-DIVISION
CLASH AT RAHWAY RIVER PARK
Cranford (3-2) 07 07 00 00 – 14
Rahway (5-0) 13 14 07 12 – 46
Rahway – Rashon Bradford 37 run, Christopher Sola kick (R 7-0)
2 plays, 40 yards, :42 used
Rahway – Brayden Pierre-Louis 14 pass from Nasir Arribas,
kick failed (R 13-0)
6 plays, 23 yards, 1:55 used
Rahway capitalized on a turnover – a fumble recovery by Kevin Martin.
Cranford – Michael Kalnins 39 pass from Connor Katz, Diar Dautaga kick
6 plays, 80 yards, 3:12 used
Rahway – Brayden Pierre-Louis 1 run, pass failed (R 19-7)
12 plays, 68 yards, 3:39 used
Rahway – Mark Bails 6 pass from Nasir Arribas,
Brandon Burnett pass from Nasir Arribas (R 27-7)
6 plays, 61 yards, 2:21 used
Cranford – Connor Katz 6 run, Diar Dautaga kick (R 27-14)
9 plays, 70 yards, 4:06 used
Rahway – Ashan Harris 5 run, Christopher Sola kick (R 34-14)
5 plays, 52 yards, 3:07 used
Rahway – Brayden Pierre-Louis 6 run, kick failed (R 40-14)
6 plays, 67 yards, 3:06 used
Rahway – Brayden Pierre-Louis 18 run, kick failed (R 46-14)
4 plays, 47 yards, 2:57 used