In one of the wildest games I’ve ever witnessed, Northern Highlands beat Ramapo in overtime, 42-35 and became the 2022 North Jersey Section 1 Group 4 champions. There were lead changes and big plays, but many will remember this game as the night the lights went out, not once, but twice – the second time when the game was in overtime.
First Quarter: In what was a long first quarter, Ramapo received the opening kickoff and began on their 31. Two passes from Jack Grusser to Landon DePrima made the difference, the first going for 9 yards and the second a 38-yard touchdown. Highlands came right back, consuming nearly six minutes. JR Walley found Luke Saturn for 29 yards and a first down on the 26 and Freddie Kanning for 8 to the 13 for another first down. They evened the score on a 7-yard run by Charlie Sparago. Highlands abruptly ended Ramapo’s next possession when Danny Smiechowski forced a fumble on a 22-yard pass to Ben Robinson that was recovered by the Highlanders on their 28. Highlands went in front on a 26-yard screen pass to Sparago, who went down the left sideline. Matthew Boydell intercepted a Grusser pass on the following drive on the 50 and Sparago went 36 yards on the next play and scored two plays later on a 10-yard run to make it 21-7. But Ramapo bounced back and scored on a 2-yard pass to Nate Burleson Jr. to make it 21-14.
Second Quarter: After exchanging punts, Ramapo drove 80 yards and tied the game on a 17-yard run by Ethan Moran on a trap play through the middle. Moran was the main focus on the drive, including runs of 13, 12, and 21 yards. Highlands answered with a 26-yard pass to Zach Madison taking them to the 23 before Walley found Smiechowski in the right corner of the end zone on the run for a 3-yard score to move ahead, 28-21 with 13 seconds left in the half.
Third Quarter: After Highlands came out with the ball and punted, Ramapo came out on the first play with an 83-yard scoring strike from Grusser to Robinson to tie things at 28-28. Highlands punted again and Grusser found Burleson for 24 yards and Phil Veskov for 20, giving the Raiders a first-and-goal on the 3. Two plays later, Grusser scored on a 1-yard sneak to put Ramapo ahead 35-28.
Fourth Quarter: Mike Scrivanich intercepted for Ramapo at the beginning of the quarter, returning it to Ramapo’s 48. Passes to Robinson of 11 and 8 yards brought the Raiders to the 22 and a pass to Nicky Coffaro brought them to the 7. Grusser found Will Scordato wide open in the left corner of the end zone for the touchdown and a 42-28 lead. Saturn fielded the kickoff and returned it to the Ramapo 43 and a Ramapo penalty brought the ball to the 28. A 27-yard pass to Madison brought the ball to the 1 and Sparago scored on the following play to cut the Ramapo lead to 42-35 with just under seven minutes remaining.
At this point the lights went out and there was a delay of approximately fifteen minutes.
After play resumed, Ramapo went three-and-out, giving Highlands the ball on the Ramapo 31. Walley found Saturn for 12 yards to the 13 on fourth-and-4 and Sparago scored on a 3-yard run to tie the score with 3:33 remaining. Grusser went off injured on the following drive, Ramapo punted, and Highlands had the ball on their 49. But a 40-yard field goal attempt went wide left for Highlands, forcing overtime.
Overtime: Both teams get one series each at the opponent’s 25-yardline. On third-and-two from the 17, Sparago ran 14 yards to 3, giving Highlands a first-and-goal. Sparago lost four yards on the following play, being tackled by Tom Shokoff and Scrivanich.
Again, the lights went out for the second time.
When play resumed, approximately fifteen minutes later, Jack Dentz tackled Saturn for a 3-yard loss on the jet sweep. On the following play, Walley found Smiechowski for a touchdown to make it 49-42.
Ramapo has their chance and Moran carries the ball, but gets the ball punched out by Zach Chostaka – I think – and the Highlanders recover the ball, ending the game and giving Highlands the North Jersey Section 1 Group 4 championship.
Comments: This was a long evening and I have my full-time job to get ready for in the morning. I will add a comments article at some point this weekend.