BERNARDSVILLE, NJ -- The Bernards football team's defense held the fort for the better part of two quarters Friday night when the Mountaineer offense was struggling to find its way.
Once Bernards' offense hit its stride, though, the floodgates opened, and a high-level showdown turned into a runaway.
Junior quarterback Teddy Gouldin threw four touchdown passes in the span of less than one quarter and also rushed for a TD as Bernards erased an early one-touchdown deficit to hand Delaware Valley its first loss of the season, 32-7.
Gouldin, a Division 1 recruit with interest from colleges that include Wake Forest, completed 12 of 16 passes for 190 yards, even though Bernards (4-1) did not score until 1:20 was left in the first half. Trailing, 7-0, after a Delaware Valley TD pass with 7:52 left in the second quarter, Bernards took over on the Del Val 30-yard line after a short punt with 3:31 left in the half.
On first down, Gouldin--who'd had a TD pass earlier in the half called back because of a penalty--completed a 24-yard pass over the middle to Lucas Ritchie to the 6. Three play later, Gouldin sneaked in from the 1 and Steven Lopez kicked the game-tying extra point with 1:20 left to tie the game, 7-7.
Most teams, after such a choppy start, might have been satisfied going into the half tied, 7-7. But when Bernards was gifted with another opportunity, getting the ball on the Del Val 35-yard line with 28 seconds left after a punt, the Mountaineers remained aggressive. Gouldin completed two passes for 5 and 12 yards to Jackson Tantleff. Then, after an incomplete pass, Gouldin threw an 18-yard strike over the middle to Ritchie in the end zone for a TD with :05 left for a 13-7 Bernards lead.
"We came out slow, and the offense was not playing good football," Gouldin said of the first half. "I started out slow, but Lucas made that great catch and that got me rolling."
"Teddy does a great job keeping everyone cool and calm," Bernards head coach Jon Simoneau said. "Our second touchdown at the end of the half was a risky call, but it was wide open."
Clearly possessed with all the momentum in a one-TD game heading into the half, Bernards came out in the third quarter and put the game away, as Gouldin ended each of the Mountaineers' first three second-half possessions with TD passes. With 9:57 left in the third quarter, he went up top for a 64-yard scoring bomb to Joey Billotti for a 19-7 lead.
"My offensive line protected me all game, and they gave me time on that play," Gouldin said. "Joey's got blazing speed, and all I have to do is put the ball out there for him. But it all starts with my linemen: left tackle Austin McCrane, left guard John Sailliard, center Hugo Gini, right guard Brandon Krug and right tackle John Perling."
Simoneau said Sailliard is the only returning starter on the line, and that he's been doing an exceptional job protecting the quarterback's blind side.
When Delaware Valley attempted a fake punt on fourth-and-two from its own 28 on its next possession, the snap to the up-back was snuffed out by Bernards, and the Mountaineers took over on downs at the Del Val 22-yard line. Billotti gained 13 yards on a first-down run to the 9, then Gouldin sold the Delaware Valley defense on a deft play-action fake and hit Tantleff with a 9-yard TD pass with 7:31 left in the third quarter to extend the lead to 25-7.
After a Delaware Valley three-and-out on its next series, Bernards scored again on a 13-yard TD pass from Gouldin to Ritchie with 3:41 left in the third.
While Gouldin's passing was certainly headline-worthy, it was also a big night for Bernards' defense and its special teams. Eleven Delaware Valley plays resulted in lost yardage, Evan Farlow and A.J. Mino each intercepted a pass, and the special teams pressured Delaware Valley's punter, sniffed out the fake in the third quarter, and got a great game from punter Farlow.
"Coach (Luke) Maginnis' defense kept us in the game when the offense was struggling," Gouldin said. "Our running back Mike Leanza hits the hole hard. This was a big win, because Delaware Valley is a great team, and we respect the hell out of them."
"Our defense played extremely well," Simoneau said. "Luke Burns at middle linebacker is about ninth in the entire state in tackles. He and (linebacker) Gavin Chieff have really been tearing it up on defense. And we had a great day on special teams."