RB Leanza and WR Caldwell Lead Charge in Huge Early Season Win by Mountaineers
BERNARDSVILLE, NJ—On Saturday night, a big early season clash was on tap in the Big Central Football Conference’s Division 2B at Olcott Field as Governor Livingston came to town to take on the Mountaineers of Bernards High School. The Highlanders of GLHS were coming off a stunning upset win over South Jersey Group 2 champion, Hillside a week earlier in Berkeley Heights (16-14).
Meanwhile, Bernards was coming off a short week after having to play Johnson Regional on Monday evening in a game that was broadcasted live on Central Jersey Sports Radio. The Mountaineers had lost a heartbreaker to Hillside on the road at Conant Street Park on opening weekend (14-9), but then showed its balance and versatility on offense in a 39-14 victory over the Crusaders of Johnson.
Bernards had an opportunity to climb back into the race in Division 2B of the BCFC. A win over Governor Livingston would put the Mountaineers in a tie with Hillside. And the Mountaineers took full advantage of the chance it had. After ending the first quarter in a 7-7 tie with the rival Highlanders, Bernards pulled away by scoring the last 27 points of the contest for a dominant 34-7 victory.
Once again it was the Mountaineers offensive balance was on display. Led by running back Mike Leanza and wide receiver Pat Caldwell, the Mountaineers rushed for a total of 387 yards on 40 carries or an average of 9.7 yards per rush. Leanza, Caldwell, and Gordon Brienza (7 rushes for 58 yards) combined for 3 rushing touchdowns while Brady Walsh caught a 28 yard pass for another score.
Leanza rushed 17 times for 139 yards while catching 2 passes for 6 yards to tally 145 yards on 19 touches, or an average of 7.6 yards per touch. Caldwell rushed 7 times for 120 yards, and caught 2 passes for 37 more yards for 157 total yards on 9 touches, or 17.4 yards per touch. Caldwell also collected 6 tackles on the night while teammate Gavin Chieff racked up a game high 14 tackles along with a forced fumble.
Senior quarterback Teddy Gouldin completed 5 of 10 passes for 73 yards while rushing 6 times for 36 yards. Gouldin threw for a TD while giving up an interception. Steven Lopez made 4 of his 5 PATs while also picking up two tackles. Jake Caldwell rushed 3 times for 34 yards while adding 3 tackles and an interception.
Bernards defense limited Governor Livingston’s QB Connor Tracy to just 6 of 18 passing for 45 yards along with a touchdown while giving up two interceptions. Jayson Schmidt was a bright spot in defeat for the Highlanders. He rushed 13 times for just 32 yards, but caught 3 passes for 22 yards including GL’s only touchdown. Schmidt also collected 8 tackles on defense.
Victor Chait was another bright spot with 6 carries for 73 yards while hauling in two receptions for another 16 yards to total 89 yards on 8 touches, or an average of 11.1 yards per touch. Peter Iossa led GL’s defense in defeat with 9 tackles while John Schmidt added 8 tackles himself and Andrew Ciraco picked up the team’s only interception.
The Mountaineers outgained the Highlanders in total yards by a margin of 460 to 149. Bernards jumped out to a 7-0 lead on a five yard run by Leanza. Governor Livingston managed to tie the game when Tracy hooked up with Jayson Schmidt for a 14 yard TD pass. Bernards would take the lead for good early in the second when Pat Caldwell scored on a 17 yard TD run for a 14-7 score with 9:38 remaining in the first half.
Bernards had a chance to build on that lead moments later when Jake Caldwell intercepted a Tracy pass along the Governor Livingston sideline at the 8:31 mark of the second. However, the Mountaineers weren’t able to cash in the opportunity as it only led 14-7 at the intermission. The score remained that way until late in the third period.
With 3:37 left in the third, Pat Caldwell took a handoff from Gouldin on a jet sweep to the left toward the Governor Livingston sideline, but then cut back to his right, and found daylight in a 66 yard touchdown run, and a 21-7 lead. The Mountaineers struck again a few minutes later early in the fourth when Gouldin connected on a short pass to Walsh on the right side toward the GL sideline, and Walsh scampered in for a 28 yard TD, and a 28-7 lead with 11:51 left in the contest.
Brienza wrapped up the Bernards victory with a 6 yard run over the middle with 6:29 remaining in the contest for a 34-7 lead. From there the Mountaineers cruised to victory. With the win, Bernards improved to 2-1 overall on the season while Governor Livingston fell from the ranks of the unbeaten at 2-1 including a 1-1 mark in the Big Central’s Division 2B. Both teams were slated to return to action next week with the Mountaineers traveling to Arminio Field to take on Roselle on Saturday, October 24th while the Highlanders hosted Johnson that afternoon as well.