Old Tappan NJ - As Yogi Bera would say, it was déjà vu all over again. For the second straight year, in the opening game of the State Playoffs, the Rams were rattled by an early injury to a key player and never recovered, falling 35-7 to Old Tappan.
Just minutes into the game, two way starter and Senior team Captain Brett Gundy went down with an injury and wouldn’t return. On the early game shock to his team, Coach Joe Lusardi lamented, “It’s the same thing that happened last year, this year we lost Brett. He is our trapper on offense and our middle linebacker on defense. I don’t want to make excuses, but he is a big part of what we do, and losing him really hurt.”
Shortly after the injury, the Golden Knights opened the scoring with a 13 yard run out of the Wildcat formation. Super Sophomore Jordan Fuller, who was elusive all night, took a keeper into the end zone for a 7-0 lead. The Knights quickly made it 14-0 with a 67 yard dash by another speedy Sophomore Zak DeNike.
With four minutes left in the half, Old Tappan blocked a punt in Randolph territory. They took a 21-0 lead on the very next play with a 35 yard TD pass down the middle.
The Rams collected themselves, and mounted a drive at the end of the half to get on the board. With two seconds left on the clock, QB Connor Logoyda, who spent a good part of the game running from defenders, hit Brenan Corcoran in the end zone to make it 21-7.
Randolph was not going to go away easy, and that showed at the start of the third. The defense came out aggressive and played with emotion, and a few big plays pushed Old Tappan deep into their own territory. About the strong push, Lusardi said “In the locker room, we told them to just gut it out, play for each other.”
What seemed like the game changing break came when the defense forced a fumble and Corcoran recovered at the 15 yard line.
With the Rams at an emotional peak, the bubble quickly burst on the very next play as Old Tappan came up with an interception at the 5 yard line. The dagger came next, in the form of a methodical, nine minute, 95 yard drive ending in another TD for Fuller and a 28-7 lead. After the kickoff, Old Tappan recorded their third interception of the game. A few plays later a 5 yard TD run by Zach Alsharif close the scoring at 35-7.
The big plays that were a friend to Randolph’s offense all season eluded them tonight, as Old Tappan controlled the line of scrimmage and matched the Rams speed at the skill positions. The usual formula of running Cohen between the tackles, Bertelli and Zarro to the corners, and going up top to Corcoran and Murphy had their moments, but never really found their rhythm.
Losing possessions on the turnovers didn't help the offensive flow. After the game, Lusardi explained “The interceptions; he (Logoyda) has been great and stayed away from them all year, he has completed most of his passes. Tonight Old Tappan made some great plays on the ball and it bit us.”
As the clock wound down, the Rams sideline was filled with emotional seniors, who suddenly realized that their careers were coming to a close. Coach Lusardi had a message for them “I want to thank them for all their hard work in our program. They were in the playoffs the last two years and they should be proud of that."