Parsippany Hills scored 28 unanswered points in the second half to beat River Dell, 28-21. River Dell jumped out to an early 14-0 lead before scoring with one minute left.
First Quarter: River Dell scored on the opening drive when Mike Mellet scored on a 2-yard run with the ball hitting the plane. After Parsippany punted, the Hawks scored again on a Christian Hay to Cole Zaccaro pass of 25 yards with 4:49 left in the quarter. Shortly after the score, a River Dell defender was injured and the game was delayed for at least 20 minutes before he was taken off the field on a stretcher.
Second Quarter: After the injury, the flow of the game changed and there was less energy from both teams with nothing memorable happening.
Third Quarter: Parsippany Hills came out and scored out on the half’s first drive when James Garcia scored from two yards out. The score was set up on Chris Evans passes to Jordan Thompson for 25 yards and Cavan Hughes for 26. After forcing a River Dell punt, the Vikings were on their own 49 and Evans found Ty Sallie for 27 yards to the 22. Shortly after that, Jacob Smith scored on the receiving end of a rocket screen for a 7-yard touchdown. The extra point was blocked and River Dell was still in front, 14-13.
Fourth Quarter: With six minutes left, Parsippany Hills had the ball on their 17. After two first downs, Evans found Thompson down the left sideline for 43 yards to the 17. Garcia gained 10 yards on the following play for a first-and-goal. Evans found Thompson again for the go-ahead score as he barreled through a few River Dell defenders. The two-point conversion succeeded and The Vikings were in front, 21-14 with 2:10 left. Smith struck again with a 40-yard return of an interception for a touchdown. River Dell scored with 1:16 left on a second Hay-to-Zaccaro touchdown of 24 yards. The ensuing onside kick was recovered by Parsippany Hills, who proceeded to run out the clock.
Parsippany Hills coach Dave Albano: “The kids were resilient; they were overwhelmed early and settled in. We stayed within striking distance. We’re a banged up team with several players out and our running back, Dominick Verducci, being forced out of the game. We have a next-man-up mentality and I can’t be more proud of the kids. I told them if it’s the biggest game of the year, let’s go down fighting.”