Hunterdon Central capped off their Homecoming festivities with a win, beating Hillsborough in a tightly contested matchup, 24-21.
Senior running back Jason Cabinda led the way for the Red Devils, carrying the ball 36 times for 144 yards and two touchdowns. He was the focal point of the offense, especially in the first half where he ran the ball 19 times for 81 yards.
“We just battled it out,” Cabinda said, “we faced a lot of adversity and we came in and took charge.”
While Cabinda excelled individually, he gave all the credit to the way his team battled in order to win the game.
“Our offensive line just battled,” said Cabina, “the front seven on both sides of the ball fought hard, but the offensive line was the heart of this team today.”
Hillsborough proved to be a tough opponent for the Red Devils, as they came three points away from pulling off the upset.
With two minutes remaining in the game, senior quarterback Rob Nittolo found junior Jared Senerchia for a 16-yard score. It would be one of two touchdowns that the Raiders scored in the fourth quarter.
An onside kick attempt failed and the Red Devils took the ball on Hillsborough’s 48-yard line with 1:41 left to play.
Hunterdon Central head coach Matt Perotti had nothing but praise for his team’s efforts, but he singled out the special teams specifically.
“I thought the special teams played extremely well,” said Perotti, “just all-around they way we hung together was a tribute to our seniors and their leadership.”
This marked the first full game that the Red Devils would play without their starting quarterback Michael Knight, who suffered a broken left leg in last week’s game against Westfield.
His substitute, junior Bobby Cole, filled in the void well as he completed three of eight passes for 93 yards.
After a Cole rushing touchdown, every one put Hillsborough out of the game citing an insurmountable 24-7 deficit. The fight never left the Raiders, as they battled back with big plays.
A 26-yard pass set up a 17-yard touchdown throw by Nittolo early in the fourth quarter. Trailing by 10, the defense played hard and was able to get the ball back with 2:53 to play.
Another Nittolo touchdown throw put the lead down to three, but the Raiders would never get the ball back.
With the win, the Red Devils move to 5-0 on the season, and win number six won’t come easy against Phillipsburg next week.
“We’ve got to move on and get ready for P-burg,” Cabinda said, “we made a lot of mistakes today and we’ve got to get better every day in practice.”