St. Joseph’s Hangs on to Defeat Elizabeth in Opener, 17-12

Romond, Bellamy, Stanton, Kinsler, and Jones Lead Falcons Past Minutemen

METUCHEN, NJ—After competing the past several seasons in the GMC Blue Division, the St. Joseph’s Falcons had some significant changes to its schedule during this past off-season.  Originally, the Falcons were going to play in Division 5B of the Big Central Conference with the likes of Sayreville, Piscataway, Edison, New Brunswick, and North Brunswick.

Then during the summer, the Falcons were moved into the Big Central’s Division 5D with the likes of Bridgewater-Raritan, Elizabeth, Ridge, Westfield, and Union.  Playing the likes of these schools is a long term big boost to St. Joseph’s, which competes in Non-Public Group 4 against the likes of St. Peter’s Prep, Bergen Catholic, Don Bosco Prep, and St. Joseph’s Montvale.  The Falcons will benefit from playing perennial powerhouses such as Bridgewater-Raritan, Westfield, and Union as well as up and coming powers Ridge and Elizabeth.

Tested right away, Joes hosted Elizabeth at the Brenner Family Field for its season opener.  The game marked the first ever meeting between the two schools.  St. Joseph’s football has only been in existence since 2010.  The Falcons have been able to pick up several talented players from other schools including GMC schools Carteret and Piscataway, which opted not to play this season.  Ramblers standout, Anai Brake and Chiefs standout, Rocco Bellamy transferred in prior to the start of the season, and made impacts in their new team’s first game.

Bellamy recorded a safety along with defensive standout Tommy Romond to give the Falcons a 4-0 second quarter lead.  Then, QB Matt Stanton followed that up with an 11 yard TD pass to Anthony Roige before the intermission, and Omari Jones added a four yard touchdown run midway through the third for a 17-0 lead.  Despite Elizabeth battling back with two fourth quarter touchdown passes from Miguel Encarnation, St. Joseph’s still managed to hang on for a 17-12 victory.

Stanton completed 12 of 24 passes for 110 yards while senior running back, Jordan Kinsler led the Falcons ground game with 71 yards on 21 carries.  Jones chipped in with 49 total yards on 10 touches.  Calson Goodwill had only one grab, but it was a spectacular reception for 36 yards in the 3rd quarter while Osiris Acevedo led the team with four receptions totaling 27 yards.

Encarnation completed just under two-thirds of his 19 pass attempts for 128 yards and two touchdowns.  Wendell Cadet led all receivers with 5 catches for 54 yards, or nearly 11 yards per catch.  Yasir Pierce and Estervin Almanzar chipped in with a combined 5 catches for 67 yards and two TDs.  Idris Holiday led the Minutemen on the defensive side with 9 tackles while Pierce, Rafael Colon, and Dominic Stewart combined for 16 tackles, 3 sacks, and a forced fumble.

After witnessing a second quarter safety by Cranford to open its scoring during the Cougars 44-7 victory over J.F. Kennedy in the GMC Gridiron season opener on Friday night in Iselin, St. Joseph’s treated onlookers to two more safeties in the second period to open the scoring against Elizabeth.  Romond (3 solo tackles, 3 assists, and 2.5 tackles for losses) led a gang of Falcon tacklers in capturing the first Falcon points of the game with a safety at the 10:51 mark of the 2nd for a 2-0 lead.

St. Joseph’s kept the defensive pressure on as well as continued to dominate the field position game, and it ultimately resulted in a second safety when Bellamy tackled an Elizabeth player in the end zone with 2:05 to play in the first half for a 4-0 lead.  The Falcons then took the ensuing free kick, and got good field position that culminated with Stanton’s TD pass to Roige in the left corner of the end zone with 31 seconds to play in the half, and despite a missed PAT, Joes took a 10-0 lead into the intermission.

The Falcons, which actually recovered a squib kick on the opening kickoff to put them in position to get on the board right away, received the second half kickoff, and put together a drive of about 3:30 that was highlighted by Goodwill’s tremendous catch near the Joes sideline, and resulted with Jones four yard TD run for a 17-0 lead with 8:07 remaining in the third.

St. Joseph’s couldn’t put Elizabeth away though.  The Minutemen showed some resiliency, and in the fourth quarter, delivered some big hits on defensive while making some big plays through the air on offense.  Led by the receiving corps of Cadet, Pierce, and Alamanzar, and the passing of Encarnation, Elizabeth battled back to make things interesting down the stretch.

Less than two minutes into the fourth, the Minutemen struck when Encarnation threw a rainbow to Pierce in the right side of the end zone from 16 yards out.  Elizabeth tried for a two point conversion, but the pass was deflected, and St. Joe’s led 17-6 with 10:07 left to play.  After Elizabeth made a defensive stand that included two hard hits in the middle of the field, the Minutemen got the ball back, and moved into position for another score.

Elizabeth used a mixture of the run and the pass, and perhaps that proved to be a detriment in terms of taking more time off the clock.  The Minutemen converted a fourth down run to keep its drive going with under two minutes to play, and that paved the way for the team’s second score.  EHS got another touchdown pass from Encarnation to Almanzar from 12 yards out, but again missed the two point conversion for a 17-12 Joes lead with 1:17 to play.

Needing another touchdown to take the lead, Elizabeth went for an onsides kick, but the St. Joseph’s hands team was able to recover.  The Falcons then ran out the clock for the 17-12 victory.  With the win, St. Joseph’s improved to 1-0 on the season while Elizabeth dropped to 0-1.  The Falcons next game is on Saturday, October 10th at Westfield.