It was a historical night at Ashley High School as the Screaming Eagles’ football team accomplished several firsts in the school’s history–not the least of which was recording the first win on a homecoming night.
Senior quarterback Chris Kane had 16 carries for 176 yards and a pair of scores, and senior fullback Jesse Jewell added 106 yards on 16 carries with a pair of touchdown runs as Ashley defeated South Brunswick 41-0 on Friday in a Mideastern 3A/4A Conference football game on their home turf.
But the night might have belonged to senior “A” back and defensive back Anthony Andrews who donned the No. 30 in honor of his brother Daniel Andrew–who tore his ACL against White Oak and is out for the season–and celebrated by rushing for 86 yards on eight carries with a touchdown and adding eight tackles (one sack) on defense as Ashley recorded the shutout.
Ashley opened 12 years ago and Friday’s win was the Screaming Eagles’ first shutout since that 2004 campaign. The 41-point disparity is the largest in those same 10 years. Ashley beat Fairmont 51-12 Sept. 14, 2012, and defeated Trask 42-14 on Aug. 31, 2012, and those are the previous two largest margins of victory since at least 2004.
“It’s huge; we made history tonight,” Andrews said. “It’s big because Charles (injured running back Dent) and my brother went down with season-ending injuries, and it’s a big win for both of them.”
Eanes said it was also a big win for defensive coach Chip Adams and the Screaming Eagles’ defensive unit.
“I’m glad for Coach Adams and the other defensive coaches, and the kids on that side of the ball,” Eanes said. “It’s an especially big win for them and I really loved the goose egg on the scoreboard.”
The Cougars (0-5, 0-1) had a few chances to erase that zero but on those opportunities they managed to self-destruct. On their second possession, a 54-yard pass play from quarterback Cole Blackburn to senior wide receiver Nicklaus Beecroft was wasted as a fourth-and-five at the Ashley 20 was stuffed for a 3-yard loss.
From the 2:21 mark of the first quarter through the 7:38 mark of the second quarter the Cougars mounted a drive that took them from their own 20-yard line to the Ashley 1-yard line, but a bad snap on third down resulted in an 8-yard loss and a fourth down pass fell incomplete.
The drive took 9:59 off the clock and kept the Ashley triple-option offense on the sidelines and that is the primary reason the scoreboard read 7-0 in Ashley’s favor at the halftime break.
South Brunswick had 159 total yards at halftime (130 yards passing) but the offensive effort became stagnant–in large part due to the Screaming Eagles swarming defense–and the Cougars finished the game with 246 total yards, just 87 over the final 24 minutes of the contest.
The 7-0 first-half lead came courtesy of a 2-yard run by Jewell with 5:58 remaining in the opening quarter that capped an eight-play, 78-yard drive. The Screaming Eagles (3-2, 1-0) had 173 total yards at halftime (163 on the ground) but they really came alive in the second half.
Taking the second-half kickoff it took just one play for Ashley to make it 14-0. Sophomore kicker Seth Kujawski kicked his second PAT (Kujawski was 5-of-6 extra points, the miss coming on a bad snap and run attempt by holder Corey Lawson that was snuffed just outside of the end zone).
It became 21-0 on Ashley’s next possession on an 11-yard run by Kane that provided the Screaming Eagles with a 21-0 lead after three quarters. Ashley hit pay dirt three times in the fourth period on a 22-yard run by Andrews, an 8-yard burst that produced Jewell’s second score, and a 7-yard run by junior quarterback Chalmers Carey with 2:42 remaining in the game.
That last score was set up when Ashley linebacker Anthony Boone scooped up a Cougar fumble at the South 26-yard line and returned it to the six-yard line.
The two-game win streak was Ashley’s first since back-to-back, non-conference wins over Trask (31-27 on 9/2/2011) and Topsail (24-14 on 9/9/2011) and the Screaming Eagles’ first conference win since a 33-27 win over Laney on Nov. 6, 2009.
“This team is closer than any I’ve had here at Ashley, they seem real tight, and they’ve now had three years in the same system (triple-option), and both of those things are making a difference,” Eanes said. “Tonight No. 20 (junior back Stephan Russell) stepped up again, and No. 30 (Andrews) gave us a tremendous effort on both sides of the ball. Those are the type of efforts you need from the guys who are getting more playing time due to injuries, and we hope we can keep it going.”
The last three-game winning streak for Ashley occurred in 2010 when they defeated White Oak (21-14), Topsail (17-14), and West Brunswick (21-14) in succession in non-league games from Sept. 3 through Sept. 17, 2010, in what wound up being a 3-8 season.
The Screaming Eagles have a chance to match that on the road next week when they travel to Hampstead for a conference tilt with Topsail (3-3, 0-1). The Cougars will try to get off the zero-win mark when they play host to the Buccaneers of Laney.