Mustangs Looking to Rebound Following Loss to South Hunterdon While Bulldogs Look to Keep Pace with Eagles
SPRINGFIELD, NJ—Due to a last minute schedule change, Big Central Gridiron will now be covering two games on Saturday afternoon. One of the two games will be a contest from the Big Central Conference’s Division 1B between Manville and Jonathan Dayton. The Mustangs will be looking to rebound after its 43-14 loss at home to division leader, South Hunterdon last Friday while the Bulldogs, which defeated Dunellen last week (47-14) will be looking to keep pace with the Eagles.
Both teams have lost to South Hunterdon earlier this season with Jonathan Dayton losing to the Eagles (13-7) on September 17th. Dayton also has wins over Highland Park (34-0) and Dunellen while Manville has defeated Dunellen (48-6) and Montclair Kimberley (41-0). These two teams figured to be in contention for Division 1B honors this year along with Belvidere and South Hunterdon.
Entering play on Saturday, Manville is averaging 37.7 points per game while yielding 16.3 points per contest. Meanwhile, Jonathan Dayton is averaging 29.3 points per game while giving up 9 points per contest. Dayton is averaging just over 60 yards passing per game while rushing for almost 217 yards per contest. Conversely, Manville is averaging 79 yards per game in the air and 248 yards on the ground.
Coming into this contest, Manville has won four straight between the two schools including last year’s 41-40 victory over Dayton in October 2019. The game between those two schools two years ago was the closest of the last five games in the series. Jonathan Dayton leads the all time series , which began in 1982, 17-8-0.
In those 25 games, Dayton has outscored Manville by a margin of 462 to 311, or by an average of 18 to 12 including 7 shutouts. Dayton began the series with three straight shutouts in 1982, 1983, and 1986 by a combined score of 81-0. Manville didn’t win its first game in this rivalry until 1987 when the Mustangs came up with a 21-6 victory.
Manville has lost 3 of 5 last five games going back to the end of last season while Jonathan Dayton has also lost 3 of its 5 going back to last season. Dayton only played three games in 2020 in the COVID-19 pandemic shortened season, and finished 1-2. Meanwhile, Manville finished 0-5 with its closest game played at home versus South River on November 6th, and that was a 41-30 loss.
The Mustangs are led by a young but talented group that includes QB Danny Wildgoose, RB Shawn Purcell, and Zion Harrison. Harrison, a talented hoops player, was first seen by BCG as an eighth grader at Manville Middle School when he recorded five slam dunks in an early season win over Dunellen’s Lincoln Middle School back in December 2019.
So far this season, Wildgoose has completed 10 of 17 passing attempts for 237 yards along with 4 TDs while only throwing one interception. Wildgoose has also rushed 7 times for 13 yards. Purcell has rushed 22 times for 377 yards, or 17.1 yards per carry along with 5 TDs. Purcell has also caught 5 passes for 131 yards and 2 TDs including a great one handed grab in the win over Dunellen.
Brandon Flores has been a key contributor as well in both rushing, receiving, and kicking. Flores has rushed 26 times for 169 yards and 5 TDs while catching 2 passes for 42 yards and a TD, and making 13 of 15 extra point attempts. Ethan Mullins has been an important contributor in the run game as well with 123 yards and a TD on 13 carries.
Geoffrey Mathis leads the team in total tackles with 20 while Ryan Oset leads the team in sacks with one, and Purcell, who has also compiled 11 solo tackles, leads the team in interceptions with two and the longest kickoff return of the season at 32 yards. Leading the way for the Dayton Bulldogs is QB Logan Solomine, RB Justin Carrier, and WR Lujuan Quinones.
Solomine has completed 11 of 23 passes for 181 yards and 3 TDs while not throwing an interception. Solomine has also rushed 22 times for 299 yards, or an average of 13.6 yards per carry along with another 6 TDs. Carrier is 2nd on the team in rushing with 135 yards and a TD on 11 carries or a little more than 12 yards per rush while also catching 3 passes for another 36 yards and 2 TDs.
Carrier also has a punt return of 60 yards for a TD this season. Quinones has has caught 2 passes for 62 yards. Joey Lucarello, who has rushed 18 times for 94 yards and a TD and caught a pass for another 5 yards, leads the team in total tackles with 9 while also collecting a fumble recovery. Kicker Brandyn Bernknopf has made all 5 of his extra point attempts.
Both teams have the ability to put points on the board, but the key will be defense, and Dayton has the edge there, and also gave South Hunterdon more of a game on the road than Manville did at home.
Prediction: Jonathan Dayton wins, 23-22.