The Matawan High School football team was on the verge of being upset by Freehold Boro on Friday at , but the Huskies made an improbable comeback, winning in overtime, 21-14.
Down 14-7 with 1:13 left in the game, kick returner John Alston put the team in good position to score, and quarterback KaShaun Barnes rushed into the end zone for the game-tying and game-winning touchdowns to lead Matawan to the overtime victory.
“We were down and it’s easy to roll over and say we’re going to lose but (kick returner) John Alston picked us up and ran that kickoff back and gave an outstanding effort,” head coach John Kaye said.
Freehold Boro took a 14-7 lead when running back Cequan Rush-Smith scored an 8-yard touchdown. But on the ensuing kickoff, Alston returned Freehold Boro’s kick to their 18-yard line, putting Matawan in position to tie the game with 59.7 seconds remaining.
“(I was thinking) get to the endzone,” Alston said. “This is our home field, we can’t afford to let anything up so it was either get to the endzone or give it all up and I wasn’t giving it up.”
Three plays later, Matawan faced a third-and-15 and it was Alston again who made a key catch at the 5-yard line.
“I really wasn’t expecting to get the ball to be honest,” Alston said. “I made sure I was ready for it and it came out well for me.”
From then on, the junior quarterback Barnes took control, scoring on a 5-yard rushing touchdown to tie the game with 19.5 seconds left for Matawan.
“I just knew I had to make a big play for my team and had to be a leader at that time,” Barnes said.
Barnes struck again in overtime, rushing for 23 yards in extra quarter, including the eventual game-winning 9-yard touchdown run.
“We’re just trying to make him the dual-threat player he is,” Kaye said. “If he saw green he was going. We put five receivers out there and made them cover everybody, once he got past the line of scrimmage he was good to go.”
Freehold Boro was given a chance to even the score, but Matawan’s defense held them for the victory.
Freehold Boro head coach David Ellis said the team has plenty to work on, but there was some improvement from Week 1.
“I thought our effort was better than last week, we had less penalties, but it came down to execution at the end,” Ellis said. “They were able to execute, we didn’t.”
Matawan improved its record to 2-0 while Freehold Boro falls to 0-2.