RUMSON – A ho-hum game that had No. 1 Red Bank Catholic leading No. 2 Rumson-Fair Haven, 14-0, late in the fourth quarter turned into an instant classic in the blink of an eye.

 During a fourth quarter that had everything but the kitchen sink in it, a frenzied, fire-drill-like game was decided by the Caseys’ Jayden Key’s fingertips.

 Following Rumson’s Alex Maldjian’s 83-yard touchdown run that pulled the Bulldogs (6-1) to within an extra point of tying Red Bank Catholic, Key came off the edge to get enough of the ball to redirect the kick by Rumson’s Collin Coles, preserving a 14-13 Caseys’ lead over the Bulldogs with 2:50 left in the game.

 “The first time they ran it (extra point), I noticed their wing man was blocking down on the No. 2 guy,” said the University of Pennsylvania-bound Key. “I knew I could creep down inside more and get around the edge but I knew I had to be quick.

 “It was amazing,” said Key of the wild finish to the game. “If you look at it from a different aspect it was a great high school football game, but if you think about it from our perspective, it was an emotional roller coaster so I’m just glad we got out with the win.”

 Red Bank Catholic head coach Frank Edgerly was not only impressed with Key’s game-changing play but his football IQ.

 “His football IQ you can’t even register,” Edgerly said. “He’s one of those kids that go beyond instincts. Schematically he sees some things others don’t, so I trust him with his judgement. The testament to Jayden as a man is after a long run trying to chase (Maldjian) down for 80 yards, a lot of kids would just catch their breath and live for the next play, but Jayden dialed down and dug in and made the play that proved to be the difference in the game.”

 In front of a delirious standing-room only crowd that lined the fences four-deep around the entire perimeter of Rumson’s Borden Stadium, the two teams played a game that will go down in the annals of this long-standing rivalry as one of, if not the, most exciting contest ever between the two.

 “I’ve never been a part of anything like that,” said a mentally exhausted Edgerly. “I’ll tell you what, that was a heck of a game. From a fan standpoint, it must have been a heck of a show to watch. From a coaching standpoint, I think I must’ve aged 30 years.”

 However, the game was far from over after the blocked extra point when Rumson’s Kevin Shiels recovered a Coles onside kick at Bulldogs 47-yard line.

 But three plays later, Caseys senior linebacker Gino Tartamella stepped in front of an intended screen pass to Maldjian, intercepting the ball at the 45-yard line and giving the ball back to the Caseys with 2:11 remaining in the game.

 With Red Bank Catholic now trying to either run out the clock or add to their precarious lead, the Rumson defense stiffened, thanks in part to a Keegan Woods three-yard TFL and the Caseys M.J. Wright getting pulled down for a five-yard loss on a jet sweep.

 Now facing a fourth-and-11 after a John Columbia four-yard pickup, the Caseys elected to punt, but a bad snap forced RBC’s Ryan O’Hara to punt on the run, resulting in a grass-burner, and a mad scramble for the ball ensued at the 45-yard line. With the ball bouncing off several players, Rumson’s Ryan Ruane came away with it to give the Bulldogs one last shot.

 Taking over at their own 32-yard line with 1:17 showing on the clock, Caseys junior linebacker Charlie Gordinier batted down a Coles third-and-6 pass setting up a crucial fourth-down play.

 Gordinier, who spent a lot of time in the Rumson backfield, knocked down two passes and had a big quarterback pressure late in the game.

 “It was amazing, but there were a lot of mental mistakes there at the end bringing us down a little bit,” Gordinier said. “We just tried to keep fighting each play and stay positive and we came up with a victory.”

 Coles then connected with sophomore wideout Skyler Smith for 14 yards and a first down at the 50 with 43 seconds remaining. Two plays later, senior Jackson McCarthy hauled in a 12-yard pass from Coles giving the Bulldogs a first down at the Caseys 38-yard line. 

 Following a spike to stop the clock, Coles and Andrew Lawless hooked up for 11 yards to the 25-yard line giving way to another spike that stopped the clock with 8.5 seconds left in the game.

 An incomplete pass left the Bulldogs with a third-and-10 at the 25 with 2.4 seconds showing on the game clock and RFH decided to go for a 42-yard game-winning field goal that was short and wide left, handing the Caseys the dramatic 14-13 win.  

 The Caseys thoroughly dominated the Bulldogs in the first half holding them to one first down including six net-yards rushing and 31 total yards in 15 plays. The Caseys on the other hand, ran 34 plays, recorded 10 first downs and gained 155 total yards from scrimmage.

 Red Bank Catholic senior quarterback Steve Lubischer was 12-of-16 passing for 107 yards and two touchdowns in the first half.

 After the Caseys defense forced a Rumson three-and-out on the first possession of the game aided by a Tommy Smith 10-yard rag-doll sack, RBC drove 57 yards in a time-consuming 12-play drive that ate up over six minutes on the clock.

 On second-and-7 from the nine-yard line, Lubischer dropped a perfect spiral into the outstretched hands of Wright in the far left corner of the end zone for a 7-0 lead after O’Hara’s extra-point kick.

 Following the ensuing kickoff, defensive tackle Jake Louro and end Kevin Bauman, who sat out much of the fourth quarter with an injury, stopped Maldjian for no gain on first down and two plays later the Bulldogs punted for the second time in two possessions.

 A 13-yard third-down sack of Lubischer by Rumson’s Gordon Forsyth on the Caseys’ second possession led to a punt with the Bulldogs taking over at their own 21-yard line.

 Forsyth, who has 44 tackles and three sacks so far this season, was injured on the play and did not return which was a big loss for Rumson defense.

 Rumson then picked up its only first down of the half when Coles found McCarthy for a 16-yard pickup to the 35-yard line. Three plays later on third-and-five, Tartamella sacked Coles for a five-yard loss forcing Rumson’s third punt of the half.

 Tartamella had a sack, QB pressure and an interception in the game for RBC.

 The Caseys then went on another time-consuming scoring drive moving 55 yards in 12 plays taking just under six minutes off the clock.

 On second-and-goal from the 13 following a holding penalty, Lubischer again went to the far left corner of the end zone, this time finding junior Sean Rossback for the score and a 14-0 lead with 4:15 left in the half.

 Rumson took over at their own 22 following the O’Hara kickoff. Pressure on Coles by Louro and Tartamella on first down caused an incompletion and two plays later after a Wright two-yard TFL, the Bulldogs punted for the fourth time.

 From the Bulldogs 45 the Caseys then marched to the seven-yard line in seven plays but with under one second remaining on fourth down, they elected to go for an O’Hara 27-yard field goal that was blocked by Drew Frankel leaving the score at 14-0 at the half.

 The Caseys received the second-half kickoff and took over at their own 23-yard line moving to the Rumson 22 on the strength of runs of 12 and 15 yards by Lubischer and had a chance to really seize control of the game with another score.

 However, on second-and-8 from the 22, Lubischer had trouble with the exchange to running back Billy Guidetti that resulted in a loose ball that Rumson’s Christian Lanzalotto recovered at the 23-yard line.

 Rumson then embarked on its first drive of the game marching to the Caseys 30-yard line thanks to a Maldjian 37-yard run. But the Caseys defense dug in with Columbia stopping Maldjian for no gain on second down and a bad snap and tackle by Tartamella on third down set up a fourth-and-15 at the 35-yard line.

 Rumson decided to go for it but Coles’ pass into the end zone was picked off by Anthony Romano turning the ball back over to the Caseys.

 “That was awesome,” Gordinier said. “We just did our job. Our defense just stuck through all the negative things going on in the game, the ups and downs and just kept our heads up and played.”

 A hold and a six-yard shoe-string sack by Von Factor forced a Caseys punt from their own 44-yard line.

 The Bulldogs took over and went nowhere as the third quarter ended with the Caseys still holding a 14-0 lead.

 Red Bank Catholic’s offense stalled on its next possession after a personal foul penalty pushed them back to their own 26 and they punted back to Rumson, who took over at the Caseys 45.

 Three runs by Maldjian and a Coles-to-Ian O’Connor nine-yard completion gave the Bulldogs a first down at the RBC 21-yard line.

 Coles’ first-down pass was batted away by Gordinier. Then on second down, Gordinier applied intense pressure on Coles, who was then picked off by Key at the 12-yard line with 8:49 to go.

 The Caseys took over looking to take time off the clock, but a Lanzalotto three-yard TFL and a delay of game penalty put them into a fourth-and-15 at their own seven forcing an O’Hara punt out of the end zone.

 Rumson took over in excellent field position at the 35 and Maldjian accounted for all 35 yards on four runs, including his four-yard burst up the middle to pull the Bulldogs to within one score, 14-7, after Coles’ extra point with 5:21 left in the game.

 After being held to 22-yards rushing in the first half, Maldjian exploded for 181 second-half yards finishing with 203 yards on 21 carries. As a team, Rumson outgained RBC, 216 to 110, in the second half.

 An onside kick attempt was recovered by the Caseys, but on third-and-six from the 45, Lubischer’s pass was picked off by Ryan Ruane at the 17-yard line giving the Bulldogs the ball with 4:35 to play.

 With the stadium already bursting at the seams, Maldjian sent the crowd into complete chaos when on first down he exploded through the line of scrimmage virtually untouched and bolted down the right sidelines for an 83-yard touchdown run that left the Bulldogs one-point shy of tying – enter Key.

 “We knew we had to block that if we wanted to win the game,” Gordinier said. “It was coming right down to the wire and every play counts so we knew if we could block that we’d win the game.

 “It was in slow motion, I thought it was good at first but then it went to the left and I said, ‘Thank God.’”