Wayne Valley came back after being down, 17-7, scoring late in the first half and taking the lead in the third quarter, before holding off a Northern Highlands comeback to win 28-23.
First Quarter: Wayne Valley opened the scoring when DJ Pokoj found Joey Feit for a 65 yard touchdown. Northern Highlands came right back on a drive that featured Enzo Arjona to Ian Langan on two completions, the first for 43 yards and the second for a 24-yard touchdown.
Second Quarter: Highlands took the lead in this quarter with Arjona finding Joey Chirurgi this time; the first was for 35 yards and the second was a 4-yard touchdown. A Wayne Valley punt took a Highlands bounce, giving them the ball on the Valley 35. This allowed them to kick a 37-yard field goal by Andrew Haas to make it 17-7 with 4:28 left in the half. Wayne Valley got behind running back John Testa and marched down the field, capping the drive with a 5-yard touchdown by Testa, outrunning the Highlands defense past the left pylon with 45 seconds left.
Third Quarter: After a Highlands punt, Valley took the lead on an 18-yard touchdown pass to James Jun. Valley’s next possession resulted in another score on a pass from Pokoj to Testa for 34 yards down the left sideline. The score was set up on a previous play, a similar pass down the same sideline to Danny Smith. After Highlands turned the ball over on downs, they made themselves a break when Hunter Cabrera intercepted, giving them the ball on their 45.
Fourth Quarter: From there, Arjona found Langan for 30 yards to the 21 and Arjona ended up scoring on a draw from six yards out to make it 28-23. They went for two and completed the pass, but it was overturned by a penalty regarding an illegal formation. Coach Greg Russo argued to no avail and the next two-point attempt fell incomplete. Highlands recovered an onside kick, but ended up punting. Starting on their 20, Valley moved the ball to midfield, all runs by Testa, but Chris Herrera intercepted on third down for Highlands, giving them one last chance. A pass interference on Wayne Valley in the end zone gave them the ball on the 23. They advanced to the 18, but a sack by Wayne Valley’s Marco Soto and Nick Porada lost 10 yards and Valley recovered a fumble on the next play to end their chances.
Conclusion: This was a very good and exciting game to watch. Valley showed a lot by coming back and Testa was outstanding. I do not have any stats, but he was the main part of their offense. Their defense made plays when they had to and their linebackers, including Testa, were mobile and tackled well. Highlands is a good team and hats off to Arjona for playing quarterback with a cast on his left, non-throwing hand. They could have won, but the breaks did not fall their way in the end.