Don Coryell must’ve been smiling down from heaven had he been watching Friday night’s Mid-State 38 Hills Division matchup between Hillsborough High School and Bridgewater-Raritan.
The former San Diego Chargers head coach was notorious in the 1980’s for completely ditching the running game and relying solely on the pass to move the football offensively.
If you enjoy great offense that includes superior passing attacks, then you went home smiling ear-to-ear after this one.
Both squads combined for 595 passing yards on the evening and when the dust cleared, it was Hillsborough beating Bridgewater-Raritan, 34-27, at David A. Noonan field.
“I’m so proud of all of our guys,” Hillsborough coach Kevin Carty said after the game. “Our quarterback was tremendous in the fourth quarter. He had a fantasy game type night.”
The quarterback Carty’s referring to was senior Rob Nittolo.
Nittolo went off in the second half and finished the game with 252 yards and three touchdown passes, including the game-winning 80-yard strike to senior Andrew Zitel with 2:04 to go in the game.
Zitel had a spectacular game in his own right catching five passes for 137 yards.
“I basically told myself that we weren’t going to lose this game,” Nittolo said. “They were playing a lot of off man coverage throughout the game and were trying to jump a lot of our underneath routes. When we ran our deeper routes, I just had to buy more time within the pocket to let them develop.”
Including the Zitel 80-yard pass and run, Nittolo connected from 41-yards out and 15-yards out.
The game saw seven lead changes, including three in the fourth quarter.
With Hillsborough (1-2) leading 14-13 heading into the fourth quarter, Bridgewater-Raritan (1-2) took the lead on a Michael Fair one-yard touchdown plunge and a subsequent two-point conversion gave the Panthers a 21-14 lead.
Fair finished the game 23-for-40 with 343 yards through the air with one touchdown pass.
Hillsborough would cut the lead to 21-20 with 6:38 to go in the fourth when Nittolo hit Scot Levonaitis for a 15-yard score in the back of the end zone. The point after attempt failed.
After a three and out by the Panthers, Nittolo hooked up with Levonaitis once again. This time it was a 41-yard strike that gave the Raiders the lead, 26-21, with 4:04 remaining.
On the Panthers next drive, which started at their own 31-yard line, they moved the ball all the way down to the Raider 31-yard line with 2:20 to play. It was then that Fair connected with senior running back Matthew Eichhorn a little wheel route out of the back field for a 31-yard touchdown and after a successful two-point conversion, the Panthers were up 28-26 with 2:04 to go before the Nittolo to Zitel heroics.
H-Nittolo 2 run (Nuara kick)
B- Fair 1 run (Balliro kick)
B-Fair 31 yard FG
H-Lazicky 1 run (Nuara kick)
B-Fair 26 yard FG
B-Fair 1 run (two-point conversion successful)
H-Levonaitis 15 pass from Nittolo (kick failed)
H-Levonaitis 41 pass from Nittolo (two-point conversion failed)
B-Eichhorn 31 pass from Fair (two-point conversion failed)
H-Zitel 80 pass from Nittolo (two-point successful)
RUSHING: B – Eichhorn 15-41, Fair 8-18, Kaye 1-11, Kaiteris 1-1, Capra 1-(-4); H – Delrio 8-58, Lazicky 14-57, Stavrakis 5-56, Nittolo 10-20.
PASSING: B – Fair 23-40-343-3; H – Nittolo 13-25-252-0.
RECIEVING: B – Robbins 10-157, Melewski 8-119, Eichhorn 2-43, Christensen 1-40, Vanderbeek 1-1, Capra 1-(-17); H – Zitel 5-137, Levonaitis 5-88, Lazicky 1-19, Lennon 1-5, Trimpert 1-3.