ROSELLE PARK – Although it was not a stellar effort put forth by the Panthers – second-year head coach Terry Hanratty gave his team a C for its performance, which included five offensive holding penalties – the Roselle Park football team did manage to accomplish something it hadn’t last year.
That was post a shutout victory.
Roselle Park scored single touchdowns in the first, third and fourth quarters en route to a matter-of-fact 21-0 win over visiting Pingry Saturday night in season-opening Mid-State 38 Conference-Hills Division play at Herm Shaw Field.
Roselle Park defeated Pingry for a second straight season, including last year’s opening 21-20 overtime triumph in Somerset County.
Behind a defense sparked by the likes of punishing tacklers Anthony Felipe on the line and linebacker Peter Hilburn, Roselle Park posted its first shutout victory since Sept. 22, 2006 when the Panthers blanked Highland Park 14-0 at home.
Roselle Park, which limited Pingry to just 43 yards rushing and only 66 passing, had given up points in 69 straight games before Saturday night.
Offensively, the Panthers were led by seniors Brian Matthews, Joey Fulinello and Jordan Andre. Matthews led all rushers with 60 yards on 14 carries and scored Roselle Park’s second touchdown on a 13-yard pass and third on a three-yard run.
Running back Fulinello caught a 37-yard touchdown pass for the game’s first points.
Second-year quarterback Andre completed five-of-11 passes for 118 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Senior fullback Bryce Parin carried seven times for 52 yards, including one rush for 33 yards on Roselle Park’s opening drive.
Matthews also caught two passes for 28 yards and completed his only pass attempt, which went to Fulinello for a 14-yard, first-half gain.
Matthews rushed for 51 yards on nine carries in the first quarter, but only carried the ball twice for four yards in the second and then just three times for five yards in the entire second half.
“We know that we’re now going to have to work even harder in practice this week,” Matthews said.
After failing on several attempts to complete a deep pass to senior wideout Brandon Pugliese in the first half, Andre finally got the ball to the receiver on his first pass to him in the second.
On second-and-nine from the Roselle Park 45 on the second play of Roselle Park’s first second-half possession, Andre rolled left a bit and then let the ball go, finding Pugliese wide open. Pugliese caught the ball at the Pingry 22 and then raced to the six before he was stopped.
Roselle Park scored its second touchdown two plays later when Andre hit Matthews on a slant pass at the 10, with Matthews then racing into the end zone for his first touchdown of the season.
A fumble recovery by Andre led to Roselle Park’s final touchdown, which was the first rushing one for Matthews, who scored from three yards out.
After Roselle Park was stopped at the Pingry 19 on its first possession, the Panthers drove 87 yards in nine plays to reach the end zone for the first time in 2013.
On fourth-and-two from the Pingry 37, Andre hit Fulinello in stride, with the receiver racing into the end zone to give the Panthers the lead for good.
“I have more confidence this year passing the ball,” Andre said. “After competing in 7-on-7s and in our scrimmages I feel better.”
NOTES: Roselle Park rushed for 110 yards on 19 carries in the first half, with Matthews gaining 55 on 11 attempts, Parin 43 on five and Fulinello 12 on three.
Roselle Park will next host Manville Friday night at 7. The Panthers defeated Manville 49-6 in Manville last year, with the Mustangs finishing 1-9.
“Getting a shutout (vs. Pingry) was great, but we won’t be taking Manville lightly,” Matthews said.
Manville was to open its season at home Monday with a Hills Division clash vs. arch rival Bound Brook.
MID-STATE 38 CONFERENCE-HILLS DIVISION GAME
PINGRY (0-1, 0-1) 0 0 0 0 – 0
ROSELLE PARK (1-0, 1-0) 7 0 6 8 – 21
ROSELLE PARK – Joey Fulinello 37 pass from Jordan Andre,
Bradley Carle kick (RP 7-0)
9 plays, 87 yards, 3:51 used
ROSELLE PARK – Brian Matthews 13 pass from Jordan Andre,
kick failed (RP 13-0)
5 plays, 56 yards, 2:25 used
ROSELLE PARK – Brian Matthews 3 run,
Brian Matthews pass from Jordan Andre (RP 21-0)
7 plays, 25 yards, 2:44 used
Roselle Park capitalized on a turnover, a Jordan Andre fumble recovery.
UNION COUNTY SCOREBOARD, SCHEDULE:
Thursday, Sept. 12 (1 game)
Westfield 21, Elizabeth 14 – at Westfield
Friday, Sept. 13 (5 games)
Rahway 27, Hillside 13 – at Hillside
New Providence 34, Brearley 14 – at New Providence
North Hunterdon 20, Linden 7 – at Linden
Scotch Plains 20, Gov. Livingston 14 – at GL
Bernards 33, Dayton 0 – at Dayton
Saturday, Sept. 14 (5 games)
Immaculata 30, Plainfield 0 – at Plainfield
Delaware Valley 34, Roselle 13 – at Roselle
Johnson 34, North Plainfield 21 – at Johnson
Bridgewater-Raritan 27, Union 13 – at BR
Roselle Park 21, Pingry 0 – at Roselle Park
Sunday, Sept. 15 (2 games)
Cranford at Watchung Hills, 1 p.m.
Summit at Somerville, 2 p.m.