Ridgewood beat Passaic Tech tonight in a game that featured some very good defense from both teams. One big difference was Ridgewood’s ability to make for some big pass plays to tight end Brendan Chanley. Another factor was Ridgewood having the advantage in field position throughout the evening.
First Quarter: Ridgewood fielded the opening kickoff and returned it 10 yards to their 45. They punted with Passaic Tech starting on their 15-yard line. A three-and-out gave Ridgewood the ball on the Tech 41. Keeping the ball on the ground, Ridgewood attempted their first pass, which was pass interference on Passaic Tech when a defender grabbed Chanley’s jersey, giving Ridgewood the ball on the 10. On the following play, Foerch found a wide open Chanley to the right for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
Second Quarter: Both defenses controlled this quarter. Passaic Tech began one drive on their 16-yard line and John Gardner intercepted, giving Ridgewood possession on Tech 33. The Tech defense drove Ridgewood back with a sack by Quamar Ayscue pushing them back, forcing a 3rd-and-32. Foerch was injured on that drive, leaving with a lower-body injury and was replaced by Jack Schultz.
Third Quarter: Passaic Tech had a big break, recovering a fumble on their 46-yard line, but Schultz intercepted on the Ridgewood 25, returning it 19 yards to the 44. At this point, linebacker Jay Wittmaack entered the game at quarterback and he found a wide-open Chanley for 45 yards to the 10-yard line for a first-and-goal. The Tech defense held their ground and Ridgewood settled for a 24-yard field goal by Matt Schwindt to make it 10-0 with 52 seconds left in the quarter.
Fourth Quarter: Passaic Tech got on the board with the insertion of Cashmere Jones as a change of pace at running back. Jones returned the kickoff to the Tech 40 for good field position and scored a 13-yard touchdown after running 11 yards on the previous play. His fast and quick running style was a big factor gaining yards. His touchdown made it 10-7 with 10:45 left. Gardner returned the ensuing kickoff to the Tech 49 and the Maroons were forced to punt. But it was big with Schultz’s punt landing on what looked like the half-yard line. Ridgewood immediately took advantage on the following play with several defenders converging on the ball carrier for a safety. Unofficially, it was Owen Staunton and Max Messineo (courtesy of Jim McConville of northjersey.com). This made it 12-7 with eight minutes left. Ridgewood had a chance to add to the lead, but a 42-yard field goal attempt was wide left with three minutes left. Carlos Bermudez and AJ Caruso combined for a sack to the 12-yard line and Preston Stott intercepted for the Maroons to seal the victory.
Comments: It was a very entertaining game with two very good defenses playing their hearts out. In the end, Ridgewood made the majority of the big plays and that was the difference. One Ridgewood player on defense who was outstanding all night was outside linebacker Cole Conneen. He seemed to be in the backfield and near the line of scrimmage much of the game making plays. Conneen had plenty of help and the Maroons were one tough defense to contend with.
On offense, Chanley was key. He had the opening touchdown, drew the pass interference that set the touchdown up, and had a 45-yard reception that set up their field goal. The Maroons were short-handed in the backfield with fullback Bobby Kuenzler and halfback Tahir Kenyatta missing the game with injuries. Then Foerch went out, forcing Ridgewood to use three quarterbacks.
Ridgewood was also without the services of inside linebacker Jack Frers, but Stott filled in admirably with the game-clinching interception and the first down from his fullback position that allowed the Maroons to run out the clock. Another player who stepped up was Staunton, a regular at safety and filling in at halfback on offense.
It was a game with two very good teams. It wouldn’t surprise me if they met again during the playoffs with both teams having the ability to to contend for titles. But that is a long way off and this was a very good game to watch.