MIDDLETOWN - On a day approaching 90 degrees that was better suited for throwing beach balls than footballs, Mater Dei Prep stormed out of the locker room hotter than the day itself.
Coming off a bye week, the Seraphs looked as though they had been caged up for two weeks while Keyport looked like they wished they really were at the beach. And the results were predictable with the Seraphs burning the Red Raiders, 44-14, Saturday in New Monmouth.
“We had a week off and some extra practice and all of that really helped,” said Mater Die head coach Dino Mangiero. “We had an extra week over those guys and so you put everything in perspective and there’s a reason why the game was lopsided in the first half.”
Mater Dei won the coin toss and elected to receive taking the opening kickoff 61 yards in eight plays including a 15-yard personal foul penalty that they easily shook off. Senior quarterback George Pearson – a Central Michigan University commit – took it in untouched for the final two yards for a 6-0 lead four minutes into the game. Junior running back Sincere Saunders added two points on a dive play up the middle extending the lead to 8-0.
“Everything was clicking today,” said the 5-foot-8, 210-pound Pearson. “That week off actually helped us a lot. We listened to our coaches and got into the film room. We can be real good; we probably don’t even know how good we can be down the road.”
Keyport went nowhere on its first possession electing to punt on fourth-and-12 from its own 21-yard line. Senior defensive end Stephen Robinson had a tackle for a loss and junior defensive tackle Izaiah Henderson hit Keyport quarterback Matt Twigg as he was releasing the ball causing an incompletion on third down.
Shykim Treadwell went back to punt for the Red Raiders from the five-yard line but junior linebacker Shittah Sillah broke through to block Treadwell’s kick and senior John Closs scooped it up returning it for a touchdown.
Pearson ran it in for two points and the score stood 16-0 a little more than five minutes into the game.
A false start on Keyport’s next possession left them with a first-and-15 at their own 21 and two plays later were looking to punt.
Treadwell got the punt off this time but sophomore Isaiah Noguera fielded it at the 27, raced up the middle before breaking it down the right sideline and sprinting in for a 73-yard touchdown. Saunders ran it in for two untouched off left tackle pushing the Seraph lead to 24-0 a little over seven minutes into the game.
The Red Raiders took the ensuing kickoff and three plays later Robinson knocked down a Twigg pass attempt and the 6-foot-4, 245-pound Henderson made a diving grab for the interception at the Keyport eight-yard line.
A hold negated a Pearson touchdown run but on the next play he ran it in from 11-yards out and Saunders’ third two-point conversion run of the half made it 32-0 still in the first quarter.
Keyport went three-and-out on its ensuing possession and following the punt the Seraphs were in business again with a first-and-10 at the Red Raiders 40-yard line.
Six plays later on fourth-and-eight from the 13-yard line Person found senior Kyle Devaney down the right sideline and Davaney broke a couple of tackles before getting into the end zone. Freshman Jahqual Talmadge was stopped going for two and the score held at 38-0.
Another Keyport fumble – this one on first-and-10 from their own 15 – gave the ball back to the Seraphs and after having a touchdown pass dropped in the end zone on first down, Pearson hit Closs for a seven-yard score.
Talmadge failed to convert the two points and the score stood 44-0 with 5:03 remaining in the first half.
Mater Dei head coach Dino Mangiero sat his starters for the rest of the game and mercifully the second half commenced with a running clock.
“I’ve been on the other end and it’s no fun,” said Mangiero when asked about sitting his starters. “The last thing I would ever do is embarrass another team. Those kids work as hard as our kids and we don’t do that.”
Keyport’s talented running back junior Devin Wollner had touchdown runs of seven and three yards in the second half.
Pearson completed 8-of-10 passes for 97 yards and two touchdowns and picked up 24 yards on the ground with two scores giving him four TDs on the day.
“We’ve got a great group of kids that focus and work hard in practice,” Mangiero said when asked how good his team is. “I keep telling them ‘you work hard in practice, you get things done in practice then you’ve got a real good chance to win.’”
In an attempt to upgrade their schedule, Mater Dei dropped three games and added games against Canada Prep (Ontario), Lincoln and Delbarton. Next week they’ll be hosting Canada Prep which is coached by former University of California All-American wide receiver Geoff McArthur, who was Aaron Rogers’ top target while playing together at Cal.
“I’ve played them a couple times in the past,” Mangiero said of his upcoming opponent Canada Prep. “You look at their schedule and they play a really good schedule and good teams. I’m sure they’re going to come in here ready to go.”
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