A week after the passing and running of junior quarterback Owen Monahan rallied Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School’s football team to a seven-point victory over Voorhees, the Raiders needed another boost as its offense was blanked for the first 42 minutes yesterday.
This time Scotch Plains-Fanwood turned to sophomore Emendo Thomas and its version of the Wildcat offense to generate both of its touchdowns in a 2½-minute flurry late in the fourth quarter to rally it to a 14-13 decision over a valiant but out-sized North Plainfield squad.
Scotch Plains-Fanwood (4-1) unveiled its Wildcat briefly against Voorhees, but used it early and often yesterday.
Thomas, who ran 10 times for 110 yards, showed its potential when he broke off an 80-yard touchdown run that was called back by a holding penalty on the first play of the second half.
“We’re going to continue to expand that package,” coach Jon Stack said of the Wildcat. “We’re going to take advantage of his athletic ability and as much as he can learn, we’re going to run with.”
The defensive battle was scoreless until the final minute of the first half, when Brandon Selby (12-118 rushing) took off on a 47-yard jaunt down the left sideline on a third-and-14 for North Plainfield (1-4) from its 6 yard-line. A facemask penalty on the play advanced the ball to the Scotch Plains 17 and Selby ran left on the next three plays as well, scoring on the last from seven yards out.
North Plainfield needed less than a minute and a half on the game clock, wrapped around the halftime intermission, to score again. Amir Graham picked off Monahan at the 19 on the third play of the third quarter and raced down the right sideline for a 13-0 lead with 10:52 left in the period. A bad snap on the conversion led to a hurried incomplete pass after a mad scramble, a play that would prove to be decisive.
“We had them on the ropes and we let them off the ropes,” North Plainfield coach Bob Lake said. “I’m proud of our kids because we just out-physicaled a team that we probably don’t belong out on the field with.”
Scotch Plains-Fanwood’s offense did not get in gear until an epic 17-play, 80-yard march that consumed 7:16 of precious game time.
The drive began with Monahan under center but finished with Thomas taking two snaps inside the 10, the last at the four-yard line with 5:54 remaining.
The Raider line, which appeared to wear down the feisty North Plainfield front, then delivered some big plays as Rashaun Gary and Cody Biondi teamed for a sack on the Canucks’ second down and linebacker Reuben Perez added a tackle for loss on third.
Scotch Plains regained possession at the North Plainfield 48 trailing 13-7 with 3:37 to play. Whatever sense of drama that began to envelope the field was shattered when Thomas took a direct snap on the first play of the drive, circled the right side, and outran the defense to the end zone. John Murphy’s second extra point kick in as many minutes provided the winning margin.