Post 1,005 – Hillside 33 River Dell 13

Trailing 13-3 in the third quarter, Hillside ran off 30 unanswered points to beat River Dell, 33-13 and advance to meet Old Tappan next week in the North Jersey Section 1 Group 3 championship next week. 

First Quarter: After a Hillside punt, River Dell had the ball on the Hillside 45. The Golden Hawks picked up three first downs on passes to Max Froonjian and had a first-and-goal on the 8. River Dell lined up for a 20-yard field goal, but holder Vincent Doornheim got up and ran into the end zone for a touchdown and a 7-yard lead. On the following drive, Muwaffaq Parkman had a 70-yard touchdown run called back on a penalty and the Comets ended up punting. River Dell advanced just past the 50, but Marcus White intercepted on the 20. 

Second Quarter: The teams exchanged possessions on punts or a turnover of downs until Jack Carey intercepted for River Dell on their 45. Hillside started their next drive with 3:23 left in the half and Kyon Simonson immediately ran for 14 yards. Faced with fourth-and-4 on the River Dell 38, Parkman picked up 7 yards for a first down. They were faced with fourth down again when Caleb Salters ran for 22 yards to the 10 on the quarterback keeper as time was running out. The Comets turned to Giovanni Lavoura and he booted a 27-yard field goal as time expired. 

Third Quarter: River Dell came out with the ball and marched 74 yards, scoring on a 16-yard pass from Jake Sconza to RJ Weiss. The extra point failed and the Golden Hawks were up, 13-3. The key play on the drive was a 24-yard run by Chris Helm. Faced with the threat of being eliminated, Hillside drove 70 yards, hitting a key third down pass to Al Jamar Davis for 17 yards to the River Dell 48. Then four consecutive runs by Simonson netted 9, 9, 22, and 6 yards. Salters sneaked over for a 1-yard score and it was 13-10. A punt gave Hillside the ball on the River Dell 46 and SImonson went to work again with runs of 28, 3, and 14 yards to the 1 before Salters sneaked in again and the Comets held the lead for the first time, 17-13. Hillside drove again, but fumbled with River Dell recovering on their 1 on the fourth quarter’s opening play. 

Fourth Quarter: Hillside stopped Sconza for a safety shortly after recovering the fumble to make it 19-13. Hillside’s drive was stopped by a Phillip Doornheim interception before White had his second pick of the day on the Hillside 20. Salters went 45 yards to the 18 and Simonson scored three plays later on a 12-yard run. Hillside closed things out on the next possession when nose guard Zaimir Hawk intercepted and went 28 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown. 

Comments: Hillside came together in the second half. Their ground game nearly tripled their output in the second half; they rushed for 287 in the game, with 208 coming in the second half. Simonson rushed for 158 yards and one touchdown on 25 carries, with 128 in the second half. Salters ran for 101 yards, with 62 in the second half. The Comets stayed mostly on the ground in the second half, throwing only two passes, as opposed to nine in the first half. Defensively, White had two interceptions. But the interception of the game came from Hawk, a 300-lb. nose guard taking it 28 yards for the score, showing some light feet that reminded me of Jackie Gleason in The Honeymooners as Ralph Kramden. Hawk was a force all day from his nose guard position plugging the middle and the interception was the cherry on top. 

River Dell played a tough game against a team that was better than them. Froonjian played his usual good game with six receptions, catching three on that first drive that set up the touchdown. Their defensive front played tough, especially in the first half by limiting the Hillside rushing attack. Among those with a good game was nose guard Ren Yoshikubo. In the end, Hillside was too much for the Golden Hawks and they have nothing to be ashamed of. 

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