Coach Bill Carpluk couldn’t have asked for anything more from his players during a season opener on Friday as Mendham dominated Mount Olive 26-0.
After an early interception thrown by Jack Horan on the first drive of the game, the Minutemen offense decided to pound the ball inside with Chris Jones and Tim Byrne until the Marauder defense stopped them. Lucky for them, that never happened.
Mount Olive had no answer for the power running game of Jones, Byrne, and Joe Beneducci, who racked up yards for the Minutemen.
“We like to run the ball downhill,” Carpluk said. “We’re fortunate we could do that today, things kind of worked out.”
Mendham got its first points of the season early in the second quarter with a five-yard keeper by Horan after a long and successful drive in which Mendham ran the ball down the middle of the Mount Olive defense. A key scramble for a first down by Horan kept the drive alive, leading to the touchdown by the senior quarterback.
Horan, not well known as a dual-threat quarterback, displayed his solid running ability with two rushing touchdowns and almost 100 yards rushing.
“I didn’t know I would be running this much,” said Horan. “After the first interception that really opened my eyes to the defense and made me see if nothing was there then run it.”
In the second quarter, the Mendham offense continued to run the ball behind an interior line that included Anthony Marconi, James Govan, and Richard Masiello, leading to two more second quarter touchdowns by Byrne.
Byrne, a junior fullback who ran and blocked hard all game, capped off two scoring drives with a one-yard and a two-yard touchdown that increased the Mendham lead to 20-0 at halftime.
“I owe it to our offensive line,” said Byrne. “We’ve been working hard since day one and I was excited to play with them.”
On defense, the Minutemen held Mount Olive to zero points, making the game their first shutout since late in the 2010 season.
Neither the Marauder running game nor the passing game could make progress against the Mendham defense as the Minutemen picked off Mount Olive quarterback Alec Oriolo twice in the second quarter. Oriolo had a tipped pass intercepted by Marconi, and one picked off by safety Michael Rikkola.
The secondary’s ability to make the passing game ineffective for Mount Olive led to multiple sacks by the defensive line. Michael Frigo, Joey Abramski, Alec Skaltsis, Richard Massielo, and Jack Powers all put pressure on the Mount Olive quarterback throughout the game.
The Minutemen’s win against Mount Olive makes it the first season opening win for Mendham since the 2008 season.
Coming off consecutive losing seasons, this is a huge win for the Minutemen. They played exceptionally well on both sides of the ball and this game will help the team prepare for next week against a tough Delbarton squad.
“It’s a huge confidence booster for us,” said Horan. “After last season this was a huge game for us and hopefully we can keep the momentum going throughout the season.”
Mount Olive 0 0 0 0 — 0
Mendham 0 20 0 6 — 26
ME—Jack Horan 5 run (Ross Coapman kick).
ME—Tim Byrne 2 run (Coapman kick).
ME—Byrne 1 run (kick failed).
ME—Horan 50 run (kick failed).