PERTH AMBOY — After losing four straight Thanksgiving Day games to their rivals from Perth Amboy, the Carteret High School football team rolled to a 41-0 victory Thursday morning at Waters Stadium.
Senior quarterback Tyler Rodriguez completed 18-24 passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns and tailback Jerod Johnson rushed for 95 yards and three scores in the first half, helping the Ramblers build a 35-0 lead at intermission. Carteret (10-0) pulled their starters at the half and only scored in the final 24 minutes when Tyler Pitchford returned a fumble 30 yards for a touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter.
“This is something we’ve talked about for a long time,” Carteret head coach Matt Yascko said. “After last week’s playoff win, we told the kids that we were going to worry about the state semifinal after Thanksgiving. We had to put all of our focus on this game and I’m proud of the way the kids and the coaches prepared and executed. The result was exactly what we wanted today.”
The Ramblers jumped on top on the game’s opening possession, going 69 yards on just seven plays. Johnson totaled 40 yards all-purpose on the drive, and capped it off with a 5-yard touchdown run to put Carteret up 7-0.
After Perth Amboy went three-and-out, the Ramblers added to their lead, this time going 65 yards on 11 plays. Johnson was the work-horse again, running four more times and finding the end zone from 10 yards out to seal the scoring drive.
Carteret recovered a fumble on Perth Amboy’s next possession and promptly too advantage, using just over minutes off the clock to go up 21-0. Johnson’s third score of the first half, this time from 1 yard out, essentially put the game out of reach.
“We wanted to get a big lead, that way we could get some of the kids out and keep them healthy for next week and it worked just like you draw it up,” Yascko said. “We were able to throw it and run it up inside a little bit; everybody was touching the ball and it was a nice way to get the feeling back and run the offense that we want to.”
The only time Carteret didn’t score in the opening half was when Naji Johnson fumbled deep in Perth Amboy territory midway through the second quarter. On the Ramblers’ next offensive opportunity, Rodriguez went to work, rushing for 16 yards and then finding a wide-open Dakota Smith in back of the end zone for an 8-yard touchdown.
On their final drive of the first half, Rodriguez completed 5-7 passes for 80 yards, including a 13-yard touchdown to Elijah Torres with 32 seconds left in the quarter.
“Tyler’s done it all year and honestly, last week we had a hard-fought win and he didn’t play that great and he owned up to it and it was important for him to get some confidence back and it exceeded my expectations for the first half,” Yascko said.
Dennis Sutton led Perth Amboy with 30 all-purpose yards, rushing nine times, catching a pass and completing 1-2 passes. Darius Pearson gained 32 yards on the ground for the Panthers (0-10).