Butler scored a late touchdown to beat Park Ridge, 35-28, and win the North Jersey Section 1 Group 1 title and advance to play Hasbrouck Heights next week at Giants Stadium.
Butler came out with the ball and drove for their first touchdown, a 1-yard sneak by Evan Smith. The Score was set up by a 10-yard run by Joey Walsh on the previous play. Butler came back on its next possession and scored again when Smith found Walsh for a 32-yard pass. Park Ridge got on the board with a minute left in the quarter when Vincent Pinto scored on a 2-yard run.
Smith scored on another 1-yard sneak to put Butler ahead, 21-6 and it looked as if they could make this game a rout. But things changed after their next possession when Park Ridge blocked a punt and set up a second touchdown by Pinto, a 3-yard run. The Owls went for two and Pinto found Zachary Lewis for the successful conversion, making it 21-14 with four minutes left in the half.
Park Ridge tied the game late in the third quarter when Pinto threw to Justin Wagner for a 35-yard score down the middle.
Early in the fourth, Butler was in front when Derek Timpinaro for a 5-yard score. The ensuing kickoff featured Wagner breaking tackles all the way down to the 3 before Pinto scored from the 1. Now it was Butler’s turn driving down the field and breaking the tie when Smith scored his third 1-yard touchdown, sneaking through the middle and extending the ball past the goal line with 1:39 left.
Park Ridge had two shots, but Pinto was sacked and fumbled, which the Park Ridge sideline argued was a pass. The Owls last chance came up empty when they lateraled several times, Cal-style when they beat Stanford in 1982, with Butler finally recovering the ball.
Both quarterbacks had good nights directing their team. Smith had three running touchdowns and threw for two more. Pinto also scored three touchdowns and threw for another. I thought Butler won the battle up front, as they were able to run the ball more effectively and Park Ridge could not stop them. The five linemen for Butler were (left-to-right): Chris Dino, James DeRosa, Patrick Monahan, Sean Dunleavy, and Zack Kareivis.