Clifton 27 Hackensack 7
Donovan Swasey scored two touchdowns for Clifton in the first quarter; one on special teams and one on defense. After that, Clifton’s offense did the rest by scoring two touchdowns and controlling the clock to beat Hackensack, 27-7.
First Quarter: Swasey took the opening kickoff and went 80 yards for a touchdown to give Clifton the early lead. Hackensack moved the ball on the ground, picking up three first downs before a completed pass to Walter King, Jr. was fumbled and recovered by Clifton’s Owen Riordan on the Clifton 42. After forcing a three-and-out, Hackensack had the ball again. But on the second play, Swasey struck again, intercepting and returning it 32 yards for the score.
Second Quarter: Clifton bridged the two quarters with a drive of nearly seven minutes that was capped off by a 6-yard touchdown run by Jacob Maldonado to make it 20-0. The Mustangs drove the ball again, making it to the 17, but a 39-yard field goal attempt was no good as the half expired.
Third/Fourth Quarters: Hackensack opened the second half by going three-and-out with Clifton taking over on the 50. After a penalty moved the ball back, Kyle Vellis found Bryan Feliciano on the left sideline with Feliciano outrunning the defense for a 50-yard touchdown. The Mustangs had the ball again for well over eight minutes, but were stopped at the 19 on fourth down to turn the ball over to Hackensack. The Comets got on the board on the following play when Matt Pallouras found Adrian King for an 80-yard score. Clifton kept the ball for the final 7:57 for eleven plays, the last ten on the ground, getting as far as the 9-yard line when time expired.
Summary: After having the ball for 1:15 of the first nine minutes of the game, Clifton had possession for 29 of the final 39 minutes. Much of it was on the ground, especially in the second half when they ran the ball 23 out of 28 plays. While there were no long runs, the Mustangs consistently moved the chains. Clifton’s line controlled the game: left tackle Tyler Williams, left guard Ahmad Ramadan, center Matt Acevedo, right guard Dylan Urban, and right tackle Aidan Seyka. Maldonado rushed for 126 yards on 21 carries.
Defensively, Clifton improved throughout the game. They allowed three first downs on Hackensack’s first drive and only allowed three the rest of the way, including the touchdown. Swasey provided points with his interception.
For Hackensack, Curtis Whiting shined on both sides of the ball, gaining 64 yards rushing and providing tight coverage on defense, along with some open-field tackles.