Watchung Hills proved Sunday that a seasoned and talented front line can endure the loss of many skill position players, at least for one game.
The Warriors, who lost All Area first teamers in running back Anthony Prus and lineman Anthony Rizzolo among others, avenged a tough loss to Cranford last year with a convincing 22-7 victory at Tozier Field.
“I thought our chances were good, any time you have a line like we have we feel like we have a shot,” said coach Marc Crisafi, whose team finished 6-4 last season but lost a tight season opener at Cranford. “We grounded and pounded the whole game and it worked out pretty good.”
Junior back Ryan Cunningham ran for 223 yards and a touchdown and junior quarterback Joe Giacomo ran for two. Giacomo (18 carries for 82 yards) even went 2-for-2 in the air for 12 yards for the Warriors, who love to grind it behind seniors Anthony Carbajal, Tom Loeffler and Mike Schmidt. Senior quick left guard Adrian Correa and senior center Aiden Sullivan helped the Warriors run for 330 yards on 46 carries.
“We are going to try to take what they give us,” said Crisafi.
Senior linebacker Ben Gomes (two sacks) and junior linebackers Adrian Correa, Tim Fitzgerald and Devyn Spruell played well, Crisafi said. Loeffler also had a sack for the Warriors, who play host to Warren Hills (1-0) Friday night.
Kevin Trotter scored early in the third quarter to cut the lead to 14-7, but Watchung Hills quickly came back on a touchdown and two-point conversion run by Giacomo.
Summit 29, Somerville 7
Defending North 2 Group III champ Summit won its 13th straight game Sunday, handing Somerville a 29-7 loss at Brooks Field.
The Pioneers scored with 7:11 left in the game when freshman Keshawn Newton scored on a 4-yard run. Newton, a Pop Warner star a year ago, led the Ville with 55 yards on nine carries.
Summit had 345 yards in total offense compared to 145 for Somerville senior quarterback Joe Lucas threw for 49 yards.
Dunellen 34, Metuchen 18
Senior co-captain Tim Francisco returned a kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown Saturday night in Dunellen, sparking a 28-point unanswered run that wiped out a Metuchen lead in Dunellen.
“I was like, I can’t believe this is happening right now, we have to turn it around somehow,” he said. “This is my chance to pick the team up.”
Metuchen’s lead held for all of 15 seconds as Francisco gathered in the kick at his 8 yard line and burst up field behind a well-executed wedge that returned the momentum and the lead to Dunellen for good.
Francisco ran for two short touchdown runs in the fourth quarter but he was hardly the only Destroyer to have an impact. Nassan Anderson collected a game-high 134 yards on 16 carries and delivered the game’s first points on a three-yard scamper with 1:43 left in the first quarter. David Johnson picked off two passes and Bryce Mundy produced the other touchdown in the during the second-half run with a 40-yard interception return for a score.
A.L. Johnson 34, North Plainfield 21
A 95-yard interception return for a touchdown sparked A.L. Johnson, which built a 21-0 first half lead Saturday night in Clark before the Canucks responded in the third period with senior quarterback Kyle Grant’s 22-yard touchdown pass to Naim Hanks. But A.L. Johnson scored two more touchdowns before a 9-yard touchdown pass from Grant to Stefaun Harris on the first play of the fourth quarter and Grant’s nine-yard run with 4:25 left in the game.
Roselle Park 21, Pingry 0
The Big Blue fell at Roselle Park Saturday night. Pingry quarterback Austin Schmidt was 8-of-16 for 73 yards passing, throwing three completions to Will McDonald for 54 yards. Senior defensive end Evan Key had 11 tackles and Mike Silbert registered 10 for Pingry, which plays host to South Hunterdon (1-0) Saturday afternoon.