Westwood 17 Bernards 0
November 17, 2023
After a scoreless first quarter, Westwood scored 10 points in the second and added another score midway through the fourth to beat Bernards, 17-0. They will advance to next week’s state final in Group 3 and face Rumson-Fair Haven.
First Quarter: Both teams exchanged punts and Bernards began on their 20. The Mountaineers had the makings of a drive with a 7-yard run by Patrick Carlisle and runs of 8 and 9 yards by Terrance Hanratty to give them a first down on the 50. A 6-yard run by quarterback Connor Laverty brought the ball to the 38, but Laverty’s fourth down pass was incomplete, giving Westwood the ball on their 31.
Second Quarter: After another exchange of punts, Westwood began on their 35 and wasted no time as Rob Carcich connected with Tom Bussanich for 32 yards to the 33-yard line. A 19-yard run by Aidan Dugan brought the ball to the 11, which led to a 22-yard field goal by Sean Morrison for a 3-0 lead with 4:42 left in the half. Bernards went three-and-out and punted, giving Westwood the ball on their 33. A pass interference penalty brought the ball to the Bernards 45 and a sideline completion to Bussanich two plays later was good for another first down on the 35 plus a late hit on the Bernards defender tacked on 15 yards, moving the ball to the 20. A 9-yard run by Steve Klein gave the Cardinals a first-and-goal on the 8 and three plays later, Carcich found Joe Klein in the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown and a 10-0 lead with 15 seconds left in the half.
Third Quarter: Westwood was moving the ball, but Max Austin intercepted on the sideline, giving the Mountaineers the ball on the 50. The Westwood defense held, forcing a three-and-out. Late in the quarter, the Cardinals began a drive that moved into the fourth. Dugan picked up 11 yards, followed by a 16-yard run by Carcich to end the quarter.
Fourth Quarter: Carcich ran for 8 yards on the following play and Steve Klein’s 10-yard run brought the ball to the 19. Runs of 8 and 7 yards by Dugan brought the ball to the 2, before Steve Klein crashed in for the touchdown and a 17-0 lead with six minutes left. With three minutes left, Bernards moved the ball down the field and picked up a first down on the 7-yard line. Laverty found Jack Morra before the goal line and defenders Sean Morrison and Bussanich held him up short of the goal line, along with other Cardinal defenders helping out as time expired.
Comments:. Westwood surpassed last year’s team: they were eliminated in this game by Caldwell a year ago and won in this round tonight. The defense posted their fifth shutout and have allowed only 60 points in twelve games after allowing 63 last year, also in twelve. The Cardinals allowed only two runs of 10 yards or longer and only 36 yards passing before the last drive. On offense, they did a very good job of moving the ball and controlling the game from the second quarter to the end of the game. While showing balance in the first half, the Cardinals stuck to the ground in the second, with only one pass. Dugan and Steve Klein had nearly identical statistics running the ball: Dugan gained 78 yards on 13 carries and Klein 72 on twelve. They move on to Rutgers next week against a very good Rumson-Fair Haven team who played a very tough schedule and is arguably the best program in the Shore Conference.
Offensively, Bernards showed life on only two drives: one in the first quarter and their last drive when the game was already won by Westwood. The defense played well, holding Westwood to 17. They had a great season and won a sectional championship, but ran into a Westwood team that was determined to advance beyond last year’s finish. They have a fair share of players returning next year and should be very competitive. But they met their match tonight.