Caldwell Accounts for 206 Yards and 3 TDs to Lift Mountaineers to 6-1
NORTH EDISON, NJ—On Thursday night, the Big Central Conference’s inaugural post-season began with two games including a matchup between Bernards and St. Thomas Aquinas. After opening the season with a 14-9 loss on the road at Hillside on October 3rd, the Mountaineers have gone into overdrive with a balanced offensive attack, and tough defense to produce five straight victories entering the contest with Aquinas.
Meanwhile, the Trojans, which at one point were 3-1 after scoring impressive victories over South River (38-32 OT), Spotswood (54-14), and Metuchen (54-0) and only losing a heartbreaker at home to currently unbeaten North Plainfield (38-30) on October 9th, were looking to rebound after losing on the road to Non-Public Group 3 and Shore Conference power, St. John Vianney, 31-0 last week in Holmdel.
On a muddy and puddle ridden field at Aquinas County after rain for much of the day on Wednesday and Thursday, Bernards, which plays on turf at Olcott Field in Bernardsville, had no problems thanks to the efforts of standout receiver, Patrick Caldwell. A standout in lacrosse, who will be attending Wagner College to play the spring sport next fall, Caldwell rushed 5 times for 104 yards, or nearly an average of 21 yards per carry, and caught three passes for another 102 yards, or 34 yards per reception for a total of 206 yards long with three touchdowns to lead the Mountaineers to a 41-6 win.
Although the Mountaineers had some difficulty in the muck and mire, still managed to stay in control as Gouldin didn’t throw an interception while completing 56 percent of his passings for 125 yards. Meanwhile, bruising running back, Mike Leanza, supplemented Caldwell’s effort with 108 yards on 18 carries for an average of 6 yards per carry. Leanza sparked a 20 point fourth quarter explosion that put the game away with a 50 yard TD run to the end zone with 9:04 to play.
Unable to score on its first drive, Bernards scored on the first play of its next possession as standout QB, Teddy Gouldin, stepped back in the pocket, and launched a 62 yard bomb to Caldwell for a touchdown, and a 7-0 lead with 8:48 to play in the opening quarter. Battling the hostile field conditions, the Mountaineers were unable to score again until the very end of the first half. After an interception return by Tyler Austin, and maintaining good field position, Bernards was eventually able to hit paydirt on a QB sneak by Gouldin from a yard out for a 14-0 lead at the intermission.
The third quarter saw Caldwell begin to take things over. Duplicating a feat he performed in the third quarter against Governor Livingston at Olcott Field on October 17th, the Bernards senior took the handoff on a jet sweep to the left side toward the Aquinas sideline, and took it to the house before diving into the end zone for a 64 yard score with 6:18 to go in the frame. Aquinas, which got decent performances from sophomore QB Jayden Young, and fellow classmate Jonathan Wyatt, tried to show some life on its next possession.
On a drive that just took 34 seconds, Young, who finished 18 of 36 for 265 yards and a touchdown, connected with GMC Hoops 6th man of the Year, Jalen Jones on 59 yard scoring pass. Although the two point conversion failed, the Trojans appeared to have some momentum as they closed the gap to 21-6 with 5:44 to play in the frame. However, Aquinas would not be able to get any closer. Jones finished with 3 catches for 76 yards while Wyatt led the Trojans with 5 receptions for 107 yards. Najee Lovejoy led all receivers with 6 catches for another 52 yards.
Following Brienza’s jaunt that made the score 28-6 a little more than 9 minutes left in the fourth, Bernards came up with another huge play on defense when senior captain, A.J. Mino intercepted a pass near the Aquinas sideline, and took it the other way for an 80 yard touchdown, and a 34-6 lead with 6:14 remaining. The Mountaineers wrapped things up with another solid drive that was capped by two more jet sweeps to the left by Caldwell including one from 11 yards out with 3:20 left for a 41-6 lead.
With the victory, Bernards won its sixth straight and improved to 6-1 overall on the season. The Mountaineers will be in action again on Friday night with a home game versus Voorhees at Olcott Field while Aquinas will head up New Dover Road into Woodbridge Township to take on Colonia next Friday as well. The Trojans have now lost two straight, and dropped to .500 overall at 3-3. Bernards will have one more game after that when it hosts Immaculata at Olcott Field on Thanksgiving Eve.