Led by Piotr Partyla’s five rushing touchdowns for Lyndhurst, with his fifth being the gamer winner with 33 seconds remaining, the Golden Bears beat Verona, 37-34 in a thrilling second half that saw four lead changes in the second half. It was also a game where the running backs shined for each team, with Partyla rushing for 312 yards yards on 40 carries and Verona’s Frank Riggio rushing for 201 and four touchdowns on 28 carries (stats courtesy of Bob Anthony at sidelinechatter.com).
Lyndhurst was on the board in the first quarter when Ben Franchino kicked a field goal for a 3-0 lead that was set up by Lyndhurst recovering a muffed punt in good field position.
It was 10-0 when Partyla scored from two yards out, three minutes into the second quarter. Verona quickly cut into the lead when Cael Zebrowski found Jake McConnachie for a 68-yard score. Lyndhurst came back and Partyla scored another 2-yard touchdown on the toss with two minutes left in the half. Verona would not go away when McConnachie caught a pass for 23 yards down to the 5, followed by a Nick Riggio score with eight seconds left in the half and it was 17-14, Lyndhurst.
Partyla went 64 yards to score just fifteen seconds into the third quarter and extend the lead to 23-14, with the extra point being missed. Zebrowski found McConnachie again for 48 yards and Riggio ran 24 yards for the touchdown – Verona also missed the point-after, making it 23-20, three minutes into the quarter. McConnachie intercepted for Verona on the Verona 18 and returned it to the 50, setting up a 52-yard Riggio touchdown, giving the Hillbillies the lead for the first time, 27-23. Partyla went 13 yards to put the Golden Bears back out in front, 30-27, but Riggio went 49 yards to put Verona back up, 34-30 with less than two minutes left in a see-saw third quarter.
The scoring quieted down in the fourth quarter until Lyndhurst came down the field and Partyla scored from five yards out to make it 37-34 with 33 seconds remaining. Verona’s desperation drive ended when Lyndhurst intercepted, leaving Lyndhusrt one play to run out the clock.
Another great game!
I arrived from a great game at DePaul for this game and I am blessed to witness two memorable classics. Partyla was outstanding and the Lyndhurst line blocked much better than when I saw them against New Milford. In a losing cause, Riggio was outstanding, but so was McConnachie, who caught several big passes and had an interception. If I had to pick the three stars of the game, as they do in hockey, I would go with McConnachie #3, Riggio #2, and Partyla #1.
Lyndhurst travels to Rutherford next week to face their next-door neighbor in the North Jersey Section 2 Group 2 final. I have mentioned in the past that Lyndhurst is a great football town that has been quiet for some time. It is a town that is very similar to Hasbrouck Heights, but without the sustained success of Heights. I mentioned this to head coach Rich Tuero and he agreed with my assessment, as I used the word, “dormant.” They will pack Tryon Field in Rutherford and they did a good job of packing their side of the field in Verona, probably having more fans than Verona,as they came young and old, with emphasis on the “old.” Go through Lyndhurst Friday night and you will hard pressed to see anybody.