Day Two at Rutgers
Lenape vs. Wayne Valley
Greg Toal always said “when we miss an extra point, it’s like we didn’t even score.” Each team scored four touchdowns, but Wayne Valley succeeded in all four extra points, while Lenape was only successful once. Consequently, Wayne Valley won, 28-25.
Lenape scored on the opening play of the game when Jaelin Mims found Michael LeMay for an 80-yard score. After a shotgun snap sailed over the ounter’s head, Nagai Ringo scored on a 1-yard run to make it 13-0, Lenape. Wayne Valley was on the board when Joe Costa scored on a 3-yard run. Ringo scored on a run of 8 yards after Francis Brown perfectly timed a pass to intercept it on the previous play.
Late in the third quarter, Wayne Valley scored on a 21-yard run by Danny Smith. Costa ran for a 5-yard score on the next possession to put Valley up for the first time, 21-19. Riley Rodriguez scored on a 9-yard run to enable Lenape to take the lead back. Wayne Valley then struck on a 49-yard pass to the 1 from Alex Scheuplein to Chris Jun, setting up Scheuplein’s score on the following play with 33 seconds remaining.
This was a game that could have gone either way and Wayne Valley was the victor. Valley showed resilience battling back from deficits of 13-0, 19-7, and on their last drive when Lenape retook the lead, 25-21. It made for an entertaining game, which set the stage for…..
Camden vs. Salem
This was a game that featured outstanding athletes on both sides. There was speed, hitting, and entertaining play.
Salem struck first when a high punt smap gave them the ball on the 6-yard line and two plays later, Jehki Coates scored on a 1-yard plunge to make it 7-0. Early in the second quarter, Camden scored on a 9-yard Deante Ruffin-to-Hamin Anderson pass. Initially, it looked as if Anderson caught it out of bounds, but several guys filming had shots showing Anderson dragging his toe in the end zone for the catch. Salem struck back when Coates went 37 yards, just getting past the pylon for the score. Ruffin returned the favor, going 34 yards for the touchdown. The two-point conversion was good and the game was tied at 14-14 with 1:44 left in the half. This gave Salem time and Coates found RaMaji Bundy for a 50-yard touchdown with nine seconds left in the half.
Ruffin scored two touchdowns in the second half from two yards out and the game winner from one yard out. Two Camden interceptions in the fourth quarter hurt any chances of Salem adding points.
This was a very entertaining game and lived up to its billing. There were so many good plays to go with spirited, physical football. If there was one player who made himself known to the public, it was Ruffin, a sophomore. He provides a dual threat at quarterback, showing off an outstanding arm and the ability to run. We should get used to seeing more of him these next three years.
Northern Highlands vs. Winslow
Northern Highlands scored a late touchdown pass from Nate Johnson-to-Luke Saturn to beat Winslow, 21-17.
Winslow recovered a fumble on the game’s opening drive and opened the scoring on a 25-yard field goal by Tim Bright. Highlands scored later in the quarter on a 3-yard run by Johnson. Highlands had a chance to add to that lead, but were stopped on a fourth-and-goal on the 4-yard line. Highlands was able to move the ball on the ground, while WInslow had two drives well into Highlands territory, coming up empty.
Winslow came out strong in the second half with a 13-play drive of nearly seven minutes to retake the lead on quarterback James Wilson Jr’s 5-yard run on the read option. The fourth quarter had more points than the three quarters combined. Highlands took the lead on a counter by wide receiver Danny Smiechowski of eight yards. The ensuing kickoff was returned 77 yards for a touchdown by Jamil Peterson to put Winslow back in front. Ejani Shakir intercepted for Winslow and returned it to the 10, but were not able to score. Winslow had the ball again, but an errant snap for Winslow gave Highlands new life, recovering it on the 35-yard line with the rain coming down. That set up the aforementioned winning score with over two minutes left.
Winslow had a final chance to retake the lead, but a run on fourth-and-seven was stopped well short of the first down, ending their chances.
This was a tough game for either team to lose. Both teams had chances to win the game and it was Highlands who came out on top.