Lyndhurst advanced to the sectional final for the second straight year behind three touchdowns by Piotr Partyla and a defense that kept Kyle Teel in check for a 28-14 win over Mahwah. The game ended on a 91-yard interception return for a touchdown by Lyndhurst’s Daizae Tucker on Mahwah’s last attempt on fourth-and-10 from the Lyndhurst 27.
First Quarter: After a Mahwah punt, Lyndhurst’s first possession consisted of seven runs by Partyla, the last being a 50-yard touchdown. John Rodriguez intercepted on Mahwah’s next possession, but the Golden Bears ended up punting after three plays, which gave Mahwah the ball on the Lyndhurst 43. On third down, Teel hit Ryan Cabrera for 30 yards, followed by a 12-yard run by Nick Peltekian. Two plays later, Teel found an open Cabrera, who jumped for the ball in the end zone as a Lyndhurst defender was closing in. This tied the score two minutes into the second quarter.
Second Quarter: Mahwah caught a break on their next possession when a punt was fumbled by Lyndhurst and recovered by the Thunderbirds on their 42. Consecutive Peltekian runs for 9 and 15 yards brought the ball to the 34, but Ismail Ay intercepted on fourth down to kill that threat, returning the ball 44 yards to the Mahwah 30. Three plays later, Partyla scored a 5-yard touchdown through the middle with 35 seconds left in the half. Rodriguez intercepted another pass and returned it 20 yards to the Mahwah 35 with nine seconds left. A Partyla pass on the last play of the half found Rodriguez in the end zone, but he was ruled out of bounds.
Third Quarter: Lyndhurst came out with the ball and Partyla went 51 yards for the score on the first play. Later in the quarter, Mahwah put together a good drive, capped off by a 10-yard touchdown by Peltekian around the outside, as he raced past the right pylon with 2:44 left in the quarter. The drive went 64 yards with five first downs, consuming four minutes. On the following play from scrimmage, Mahwah recovered a fumble on the Lyndhurst 44, but were forced to punt.
Fourth Quarter: Neither team mounted a drive of note until Mahwah took possession on its 20 with 6:40 remaining. The Thunderbirds picked up first downs on a 13-yard pass to David Riabov, an 8-yard pass to Peltekian on fourth-and-4, and a Teel run for 11 yards on the following play to get them past midfield. On third down, Teel barely overthrew a diving Tyler Kittle that would have brought them deep into Lyndhurst territory, but found him on the following play for 15 yards on fourth-and-9 to the 27. A spike and two incomplete passes set up fourth down and Tucker made the play on the 9-yard line at the far sideline, intercepting, running across the field to the left, turning the corner, and going down the sideline in front of the Lyndhurst bench toward the fieldhouse for a 91-yard touchdown as time expired.
Mahwah – 0-7-7-0-14
L – Partyla, 50-yard run (kick good)
M – Teel to Cabrera, 11 yards (kick good)
L – Partyla, 5-yard run (kick good)
L – Partyla, 51-yard run (Partyla to Rodriguez)
M – Peltekian, 10-yard run (kick good)
L – Tucker, 91 yard interception return (game over)
The first part is Partyla, who ran for 174 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries. He injured his ankle on their second drive of the third quarter, missed a couple of offensive series and returned for late action. From what he and others said, it does not appear to be serious.
The second part is the Lyndhurst defense. They limited a Mahwah team that was averaging 40 points a game and limited them to 14. In addition, they limited Teel to 26 yards on 17 carries and 13-29-125 yards passing, including four interceptions. Their defense has allowed opponents to 82 points in 10 games for 8.2 per game. Among their starters are Chris McLaughlin, Anthony Lembo, James Blake, Partyla, Rodriguez, and Tucker.
One player who shined for Mahwah was Peltekian, who rushed for 77 yards and made several key plays. In the end, they didn’t take advantage of their opportunities and Lyndhurst’s defense had something to do with that.
Lyndhurst head coach Richie Tuero: Our defense is legit. They were sick of not being talked about. We did nothing different tonight as far as limiting Teel; we played defense. It’s what we do.”
Lyndhurst running back/linebacker Piotr Partyla: “We want to win this year; we think of that Rutherford game every day (last year’s sectional final). We’ve been talking about a championship since day one. Our defense has not been recognized and it should be.”
Lyndhurst cornerback Daizae Tucker: “I read the quarterback’s eyes. He threw it and I reacted, went for it, and caught it. Then I saw nothing but green and started running.”