KENILWORTH – Brian Matthews, a first-year varsity starter, didn’t quite know the history of Brearley’s recent dominance over Roselle Park.
The Roselle Park standout junior running back-defensive back heard about it from his teammates.
“I’m new to this,” Matthews said Friday night.
What the 5-8, 165 pound Matthews isn’t new to is taking the ball, finding an opening and accelerating with a burst of speed right through the hole.
He did that better than anyone on the football field Friday night and it paid a dividend the Panthers were unable to meet for quite some time.
Matthews carried 20 times for a game-high 189 yards and three touchdowns as No. 23 sparked Roselle Park to a convincing 27-12 triumph over arch rival Brearley in a Mid-State 38 Conference-interdivision clash at Ward Field.
ROSELLE PARK-BREARLEY SCORES SINCE 2000:
2012 – Roselle Park 27, Brearley 12 – at Brearley
2011 – Brearley 3, Roselle Park 0 – at Roselle Park
2010 – Brearley 34, Roselle Park 14 – at Brearley
2009 – Brearley 28, Roselle Park 12 – at Roselle Park
2008 – Brearley 27, Roselle Park 10 – at Brearley
2007 – Brearley 14, Roselle Park 6 – at Roselle Park
2006 – Brearley 35, Roselle Park 7 – at Brearley
2005 – Brearley 35, Roselle Park 6 – at Brearley
2004 – Brearley 25, Roselle Park 10 – at Roselle Park
2003 – Brearley 21, Roselle Park 7 – at Brearley
2002 – Brearley 34, Roselle Park 0 – at Roselle Park
Ward Field in Kenilworth was under construction.
2001 – Roselle Park 20, Brearley 0 – at Roselle Park
2000 – Roselle Park 37, Brearley 13 – at Brearley
After beating its No. 1 neighborhood foe for the first time in 11 years, Roselle Park improved to 4-1 overall with its second straight triumph.
In addition – because Bound Brook defeated South Hunterdon 28-24 at home Friday night – Roselle Park, South Hunterdon and Bound Brook will share the Hills Division championship with identical 3-1 records.
Roselle Park last won a division title when the Panthers captured the Mountain Valley Conference’s Valley Division crown with an undefeated league mark in 1996.
The Panthers also moved closer to clinching the program’s first state playoff berth since 2001.
Brearley, which was highly competitive and within range of taking the lead in the fourth quarter, fell to 0-5 overall and remains 0-4 in the Union Division.
This was Roselle Park’s first win over Brearley since a 20-0 victory at Roselle Park’s Herm Shaw Field on Sept. 21, 2001. This was also Roselle Park’s first win over Brearley at Ward Field in Kenilworth since a 37-13 Panther decision in 2000.
Brearley head coach Scott Miller’s first 10 Bears teams were triumphant over Roselle Park, with the Panthers snapping a 10-game losing streak against them. Miller’s squad on Friday night battled the Panthers until the very end, with the score not indicative of how close the game really was.
Brearley was disciplined as well. The Bears were not charged with one single penalty the entire game.
“We knew it was going to be a dogfight,” first-year Roselle Park head coach Terry Hanratty said. “We didn’t pay any attention to their record.”
“This was a very exciting win for us, especially for our seniors,” said Matthews, who the week before against a 3-0 Bound Brook team scored all three of Roselle Park’s touchdowns in a 23-13 Panther home victory.
Matthews, after losing a fumble deep in Brearley territory on Roselle Park’s first possession, bounced back to give Roselle Park the lead for good later in the first quarter. Immediately following Brearley’s second possession, Matthews took the snap himself on first-and-10 from the Brearley 47 and ran down the right sideline, untouched, into the end zone for his first score.
Brearley answered in the second quarter when it put together a very impressive drive. It was the running of sophomore quarterback Andrew Cassamento, junior running back Khayri Hudeen and senior back Andrew Scarillo that eventually put the ball inside the Roselle Park 10.
On fourth-and-goal from the 3, Miller called for a reverse run around the left side by Scarillo that found the running back scampering into the end zone untouched for six points. Although sophomore kicker David Eskin punted throughout the game, he was not called upon to kick extra points. Instead, Brearley tried a pass for two points that failed, leaving Roselle Park ahead 7-6.
Brearley marched 85 yards in 13 plays, taking an even six minutes off the clock. The biggest play of the drive was a 30-yard run by Hudeen, who at times was very tough to bring down. Hudeen finished with 89 yards on 18 carries.
With less than two minutes to go before halftime, Matthews found the end zone again, this time on a 34-yard run after he ran for 28 yards on the previous play. Frank Schneeberger’s second of three extra points put Roselle Park up 14-6 at intermission.
After a scoreless third quarter, Brearley caught everyone by surprise when Cassamento connected with junior wide receiver Nick Cantalupo on what turned out to be an 83-yard touchdown pass with 7:24 to go. Cassamento hit Cantalupo in stride with a pass over the middle and then Cantalupo beat his man and ran the rest of the way untouched into the end zone.
Brearley went for two again to tie the game, but Cassamento’s pass into the end zone went incomplete.
Cassamento had a fine game, completing 9-of-22 passes for 170 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
Brearley junior defensive back Damier Johnson came up with an interception at his own 47 with 5:44 to go, giving the Bears a chance to win.
Three plays later on fourth-and-six from the Roselle Park 49, the Panthers came up with a huge defensive stop. Cassamento threw over the middle to Scarillo, with Roselle Park senior linemen Kevin Metellus just tipping the pass enough to prevent Scarillo from coming down with it in first-down territory.
“I just put my hand up and I felt the skin of the ball,” Metellus said. “It was a game-changing play.”
Four plays into its next possession, Roselle Park struck again. After senior back Juan Carmona ran for 14 yards and Matthews for another 11, Matthews got free again, this time for a 30-yard touchdown run. Schneeberger’s final extra point put the Panthers up by two possessions at 21-12.
“I just ran behind my blockers, followed them and sprinted from there,” Matthews said.
Carmona then came up with Roselle Park’s second interception of the second half – Matthews had the first – and that led to an icing-on-the-cake, 33-yard touchdown run by Carmona.
“Work hard and play hard, that’s our motto,” said Carmona, who along with Metellus is part of a Roselle Park senior class that will graduate with a win over Brearley. Roselle Park came close to beating the Bears at home last year, falling 3-0.
“When the score was 14-12 we had to keep our composure,” Carmona said. “There was a lot of talking on the field. We practiced really hard all year for this game and played with our hearts.”
Metellus was named captain for the rest of the season on Thursday. He stepped up big-time Friday night to help deliver Roselle Park’s first win over Brearley in more than a decade.
“Humble and aggressive,” is one way Metellus described Roselle Park’s performance.
While there were many positives, Hanratty and his staff realize that the Panthers can still execute much better.
“This was not our best football,” Hanratty said. “There were too many mistakes. We were off sides and we blew coverage. We’re still learning how to win.”
“We were a little sloppy at times,” Matthews said. “We need to work real hard in practice this week.”
Roselle Park is scheduled to play a non-division game at Bernards next Friday night. The Mountaineers lead the Union Division at 4-0 and are 5-0 overall after beating a 4-0 New Providence squad 42-3 at home Friday night.
“This was a good game for us, but also a bad game for us at times,” Metellus said.
For the second time in three weeks Roselle Park will face an undefeated team so, once again, there will be very little margin for error.
NOTES: Roselle Park has now won four games for the first time since finishing 5-5 in 2007.
MID-STATE 38 CONFERENCE-INTERDIVISION GAME
AT BREARLEY’S WARD FIELD
ROSELLE PARK (4-1) 7 7 0 13 – 27
BREARLEY (0-5) 0 6 0 6 – 12
ROSELLE PARK – Brian Matthews 47 run, Frank Schneeberger kick
1 play, 47 yards, :10 used
BREARLEY – Andrew Scarillo 3 run, pass failed
13 plays, 85 yards, 6:00 used
ROSELLE PARK – Brian Matthews 34 run, Frank Schneeberger kick
5 plays, 76 yards, 1:42 used
BREARLEY – Nick Cantalupo 83 pass from Andrew Cassamento, pass failed
1 play, 83 yards, :11 used
ROSELLE PARK – Brian Matthews 30 run, Frank Schneeberger kick
4 plays, 51 yards, 1:25 used
ROSELLE PARK – Juan Carmona 33 run, kick failed-bad snap
3 plays, 36 yards, 1:38 used
Roselle Park capitalized on a turnover – an interception by Juan Carmona.