METUCHEN — Charles Sanders scored the game-winning touchdown on a three-yard run with just over six minutes to play, and the Asbury Park High School football team’s defense held Metuchen on a fourth down try with 1:31 left to emerge victorious, 20-15, on Saturday afternoon.
Bulldogs quarterback Jake Lebovits appeared to have tight end Devin Miller for a first down to continue the final drive, but Miller couldn’t hold on and the Bishops took over.
“It was like déjà vu all over again from last week,” Asbury Park head coach Tim Fosquel said. “We had some things not go in our favor today, but it was nice for that one to go our way for our kids, because they really do work hard.”
Metuchen was able to get the ball back with 27 seconds remaining, but Lebovits’ first pass of the drive was intercepted by Namir Argilagos to clinch the victory for Asbury Park (1-1).
The Bishops got a big performance from quarterback Davon Thompson, who threw two touchdowns to Jaedon Stephens, including a 32-yard strike on a fourth-and-15 late in the third quarter.
“Coach just tells me where to put the ball and if I scramble out of the pocket, I look for my main guy, Stephens, and I just put it in a spot where I knew he could catch it. He made a great play and was great all day,” Thompson said.
The dual-threat Thompson finished 7-of-11 passing for 148 yards and the two scores and added 68 yards on just eight carries to gash the Bulldogs’ defense.
The game was tied 6-6 at the half after a very sloppy opening 24 minutes, which saw Asbury Park’s first four drives end in turnovers (three fumbles, one interception) and Metuchen having thrown an interception on its opening possession and getting a field goal blocked.
“We were in a good position going into halftime, with all of the mistakes that we made,” Fosquel said. “We thought if we could get some things cleaned up we could get it together and win this game. The kids came out in the second half and responded; we made some adjustments and it was a dogfight back-and-forth.”
Lebovits got the scoring started with a one-yard touchdown run after Joe Hronich recovered his second fumble of the opening stanza, but the Bulldogs didn’t score again until Anthony Maloney hit a 30-yard field goal eight minutes into the second half.
In between Thompson’s second touchdown pass to Stephens and Sanders’ game-winning score, Peter DiMeglio gave Metuchen (1-1) a short-lived lead by rushing home from 11 yards out. Seven plays later, Sanders found pay dirt to put the Bishops ahead for good.
“For us, in terms of coming back from last week’s tough loss, getting on the road and pulling this one out is a great win for us,” Hill said. “It puts us in a great position and if we clean some stuff up, we’ll be a pretty competitive football team.”
For Metuchen, Trevor Firgau led the way with 99 yards on 19 carries, while also catching two passes for 19 yards and coming up with an interception and a fumble recovery on defense. Miller ended up with four catches for 98 yards and added a five-yard rush, but Lebovits was just 8-of-19 for 134 yards and two interceptions in the losing effort.
“We just didn’t play very well. We had the ball offensively and weren’t able to execute what we wanted to do,” Metuchen head coach Bob Ulmer said. “They played well; Asbury Park is a good team and hats off to them, they beat us. We just made too many mistakes to win.”
ASBURY PARK (1-1) 0-6-8-6-20
METUCHEN (1-1) 6-0-3-6-15
Passing – AP: Thompson 7-11-148-1; M: Lebovits 8-19-134-2, Firgau 0-2-0.
Rushing – AP: Thompson 8-68, Sanders 11-49, Davis 10-39, Abrams 3-22, Saunders 2-13; M: Firgau 19-99, DiMeglio 11-56, Lebovits 8-10, Miller 1-5, Serieux 1-0.
Receiving – AP: Stephens 4-91, Saunders 2-51, Abrams 1-6; M: Miller 4-98, Firgau 2-19, Serieux 2-17.