This was a tale of two halves: Somerville’s offense was unstoppable in the first and Old Tappan played hard to the end in the second with Somerville winning, 44-28.
First Quarter: The game began with Old Tappan successfully converting an onside kick at the Somerville 38, but were forced at punt after a Somerville sack at midfield. Somerville began at their 37 and Michael Miller found Hashym Hobbs-Davis for 45 yards, followed by a 9-yard score to Jaimen Bryant for an 8-0 lead. Somerville took possession on the OT 41 and Miller scored on a 3-yard run to make it 16-0.
Second Quarter: Old Tapan came back when Charlie Amatrula threw a touchdown pass to Daniel Rivera to cut it to 16-8. Somerville wasted no time scoring when Cookie Desiderio went 58 yards down the right sideline for the score. Old Tappan fumbled the ensuing kickoff with Somerville recovering on the 24. Desiderio scored from the wildcat in a spread out formation from six yards out. Amatrula was the star of the next drive, running 53 yards to the 12 and scoring on the next play, as it was 28-15 with five minutes left. After the following kickoff was returned to the 45 of Somerville, Miller found Bryant again, this time for 42 yards down the middle for the touchdown. Nigel Tucker intercepted for Somerville on the 5-yard line and Miller found Desiderio for 89 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown and a 44-15 lead with one minute left.
Third Quarter: Somerville was driving early in the quarter when Dylan Heaney intercepted for Old Tappan and returned it 66 yards for a touchdown. The Golden Knights recovered another onside kick, but ended up punting. Old Tappan went down the field behind Amatrula’s runs, scoring an 11-yard touchdown to close the gap to 44-28 with four minutes left in the quarter.
Fourth Quarter: Old Tappan bridged the quarters moving the ball down the field with a 33-yard pass to Ian Andresen being the key play. But on fourth-and-1 from the 1-yard line, Amatrula was stopped just short of the goal line. Desiderio operated out of the wildcat again and went 99 yards for an apparent score, but the play was called back to midfield on a downfield penalty. Somerville then turned the ball over on downs. Old Tappan moved again, but Tucker picked off his second pass to kill the drive. The Knights had one more chance, but turned it over on downs and Somerville took a knee.
Conclusion: In the first half, Somerville’s offense was unbelievable, with Desideiro as the prime mover, scoring three touchdowns and he is one of the state’s best backs. Miller, a sophomore, had a big game throwing three touchdown passes and running for another. Their defensive front ran to the ball and got there in a hurry. AJ Pena had a great game rushing the passer with several sacks. The Pioneers played with confidence in the first half and looked like a well-oiled machine. Sonerville had swagger, attitude, and looked like one of the state’s best public schools in the first half.
Old Tappan took some of Somerville’s swagger away and fought to the end of the game. At the half, people were wondering when the running clock would begin, but the Golden Knights kept playing. They kept playing to the point when Old Tappan was going to make it a close game. I thought Somerville was still in the driver’s seat, but they weren’t far away from being pushed out. Much of the credit for that belongs to the Old Tappan players and coaches, starting at the top with head coach Brian Dunn.