Southern Regional Football Squad Comes Back Against Central But Falls Short in OT

By DAVID BIGGY | Sep 06, 2017
Photo by: David Biggy Southern Regional quarterback Sean Distelcamp hands off to Matt Barnett (25) during the Rams’ 24-23 loss to Central Regional in their season-opener on Sept. 1.

It was obvious from the look on his face that Chuck Donohue Sr. really didn’t want to talk following the Southern Regional football team’s opening-night loss. He simply didn’t seem too keen on rehashing what had just occurred on the field.

“In the first half, we were lucky it was only 10-0,” said Donohue, whose Rams rebounded in the second half but fell short, 24-23, in overtime against Central Regional on Sept. 1. “We couldn’t get anywhere on offense. We had guys all over the place, going in the wrong direction. They were running for touchdowns instead of first downs and playing football the way it’s supposed to be played.”

After Central kicker Shane Black booted a 35-yard field goal with 6:32 in the first quarter, and sophomore running back Kavon Chambers ran around the left corner from 6 yards out with 9:57 left in the first half, the Golden Eagles took a 10-point lead into halftime. The Rams attempted to cut the deficit later in the first half, but senior running back John Dolphin was stopped on fourth-and-2 with 4:37 to go and Southern turned the ball over on downs at Central’s 39-yard line.

The Rams were on their heels a bit during the opening minutes of the third quarter, as the Golden Eagles marched into Southern territory and inside the Rams’ 25, looking to extend its lead during its first possession of the second half. But junior linebacker Joe Guglielmo provided the spark Southern needed when he sacked Central quarterback Joe Fowler, forcing a fumble, which was pounced on by senior defensive end Derek Wilson.

Starting on its own 31-yard line, Southern moved the ball ahead during the next few plays before senior quarterback Sean Distelcamp connected with Dolphin on a screen pass that went for 32 yards and put the Rams on Central’s 27. Several plays later, senior running back Matt Barnett made a fantastic grab on a deflected pass to set up Southern’s first touchdown of the season – a 1-yard plunge by senior Joe Miele. Junior Zach Hem booted the extra point to make it 10-7 with 1:08 left in the third.

After recovering an onside kick to maintain the momentum, the Rams moved the ball 48 yards on nine plays, culminating with a 2-yard TD run by Miele with 9:40 left in the fourth quarter and Hem’s second PAT, making it 14-10. The Golden Eagles bounced right back on their next possession, going 72 yards on plays, capped by Chambers’ second score from 7 yards out.

With Central up 17-14 and 6:05 on the clock, the Rams used the bulk of that time to put together a 14-play, 79-yard drive that ended with Hem’s game-tying, 25-yard field goal. But along the way, Southern needed several big plays en route to the tying points, one of which was Distelcamp’s 21-yard strike to junior wide receiver Schneider Juste over the middle, putting the ball on Central’s 39-yard line. On second-and-8, Distelcamp had the ball knocked out of his hands while scrambling, but he recovered the fumble to keep the Rams’ drive intact.

On the next play, Distelcamp dumped a pass to Miele, who went 9 yards to the Eagles’ 19, setting up a fourth-and-3 with 55 seconds left in regulation. Following a timeout, Distelcamp ran a naked bootleg to the right side for 11 yards and a first down. Three plays later – a run for no gain on first down and a pair of incomplete passes – Hem delivered to knot the game at 17-17.

“We settled down in the second half, made plays and played well,” Donohue said. “We had chances at the end of regulation to win, but, again, we had guys going the wrong way on a couple of plays. You just can’t do that stuff when you’re trying to win a football game. And you have to make extra points.”

On the first play of overtime and starting from the 25-yard line, Barnett took a handoff from Distelcamp, then ran around the right side and down the sideline for a touchdown. Unfortunately, the PAT was missed. On the next play of overtime, Chambers ran around the same right side and down the sideline to tie the game, and Black ended it by successfully booting the extra point.

Chambers finished with 201 yards on 25 carries. Miele led the Rams with 82 yards on the ground, while Barnett ended up with 64 yards. Distelcamp completed four passes for 72 yards. The victory is Central’s third straight over Southern and improved its record in the Boyd-Emmert series to 25-19-1.

“The players have to pick up their pants and get back to it,” said Donohue, whose team last year started 0-3 before winning five straight games to earn a spot in the NJSIAA South Jersey Group V playoffs. “Will they stay down and not bounce back? I don’t think so. But who knows? I expect them to bounce back, keep working and improving. But we’ll see. It’s up to them.”

biggy@thesandpaper.net

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