NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ -- The Belvidere option offense posed some problems for the New Providence football team's defense Friday night.
But every time the Pioneers' offense got the ball, Belvidere had an impossible time trying to stop Charlie Barth.
A sophomore back, Barth rushed for 301 yards and four touchdowns on 19 carries to lead New Providence to a 42-28 victory.
Belvidere tied the game, 28-28, with a touchdown as time expired in the third quarter. It took New Providence (5-1) just three plays to move 61 yards to take the lead for good early in the fourth quarter. After a four-yard loss on first down, Owen Kovacs completed a 25-yard pass to Sean Michaels. On the next play, Barth blasted off right tackle and sped 40 yards for a TD and Kovacs kicked the extra point for a 35-28 lead.
After Belvidere was forced to punt on its next possession, New Providence took over on its 28-yard line, and Barth again found a hole on the right side and motored 60 yards to the Belvidere 12-yard line. Three plays later, Kovacs was in the end zone on a 6-yard keeper up the middle. His extra point gave New Providence a 42-28 lead with 3:39 left.
Barth's final carry, with under two minutes left in the game, went for 37 yards down the left sideline and put him over the 300-yard rushing mark for the game.
"I have great linemen," Barth said. "The holes were there all night. I can't thank them enough."
Left tackle Tucker Davidson, left guard Nate Woodby, center Mitch Ping, right guard Ari Potouridis and right tackle Anthony Kaspereen--a fellow 10th-grader--all were singled out by Barth for helping him scale the mythical 300 mark on a night when both teams went up and down the field against each other for three thrilling quarters.
"From our first scrimmage, we knew our offensive line would be a strength this year," New Providence head coach Chet Parlavecchio Jr. said. "We were pushing people up front tonight, and Charlie has gotten more comfortable with the offense now. With his speed, once he gets to the second level, he's so dangerous. And, hard as it is to believe, I think he's only scratching the surface of how good he can be."
Belvidere, operating a triple-option veer offense with some wishbone sets thrown in, scored on three of its four first-half possessions. And, in contrast to the quick-striking Pioneers, the visiting County Seaters moved the ball steadily and methodically with time-consuming drives. Indeed, in the first half, New Providence had exactly 12 snaps compared to 39 scrimmage plays for Belvidere.
"They nickel-and-dimed us with their offense and they played us tough," Parlavecchio said. "When we were finally able to get up two scores on them, then they had to throw the ball. But this was a good game for us; we needed to have our mettle tested."
A good example of that mettle was exhibited when, after Belvidere scored to take a 21-14 lead with 37 seconds left, New Providence took over after the kickoff on its own 30-yard line with 29 seconds left in the half. Many teams would just take a knee there and go into the locker room down a TD rather than risk a costly turnover at the end of a half.
Not New Providence. And why should they, the way the Pioneers were devouring yardage in big chunks on each possession. So after Kovacs picked up a yard on first down, Barth broke several tackles and got into the secondary for a 35-yard run to the Belvidere 34-yard line. On the next play, Kovacs took a shotgun snap and ran around left end and down the sidelines for a TD with :01 showing on the clock, before he also kicked the extra point that sent the Pioneers into halftime having re-tied the game, 21-21.
"We saw on film that their secondary on the edges was very weak," Barth said of Belvidere's defense. "We wanted to exploit that, and we had great execution."
Kovacs carried eight times for 77 yards before taking a knee in victory formation on the game's final two plays to erase some of that net yardage.
New Providence plays A.L. Johnson next week before heading to Kenilworth on Nov. 1 for a game against Brearley to decide the division title.