Football teams with shaken confidence needed only a visit to Westfield last year to have faith restored. Hunterdon Central had a 49-14 win there after an 0-3 start, Phillipsburg rebounded from a loss to Franklin with a 35-7 win at Kehler Stadium and Franklin – coming off a 49-14 loss to Elizabeth – had faith renewed with a 35-0 romp.
One year can sure make a difference as Westfield (2-0) showed Saturday with a convincing 29-8 win over Hillsborough in a Mid-State 38 Delaware Division game.
Many of players in blue suffered through last year’s 2-8 performance with win No. 1 arriving Oct. 27. Westfield, beaten by Hillsborough 57-34 in week two last year, has now matched last year’s win total and have one more division win.
Blue Devils’ senior back Eugene Rawles scored on three short runs and Westfield’s platooned line was dominant with senior Chris Sweeney registering five sacks of senior quarterback Rob Nittolo, who was harassed throughout the game. Nittolo was picked three times, the second returned 44 yards by junior linebacker Jack Simcox for a sealing touchdown with 10:08 left in the fourth. His teammates on and off the field raced toward him to celebrate.
“They pretty much beat us in every phase of the game,” said Hillsborough coach Kevin Carty, whose team is 0-2 overall and in division with a home game with Bridgewater-Raritan Friday night.
Carty addd that he probably didn’t think Westfield was as good as it was though he knew it returned many players and was coming off a 21-14 season-opening win against defending North 2 Group V champ Elizabeth. Afterward, Carty said Westfield should be very capable of making it a very good game at Phillipsburg (2-0) Friday night.
“Now they know,” said Sweeney, whose performance was scouted by Hunterdon Central coach Matt Perotti who Westfield will see Oct. 4 in Raritan Township.
Westfield scored on its first drive as Rawles went in from a yard out and senior QB Chris Hogge scoring the conversion run. Nittolo read something he liked on the last play of the first quarter and ran for a 74-yard score, then tied it at 8-8 with a conversion pass to Scot Levonaitis. Westfield then took the lad for good late in the half with Hogge and Nick Buontempo connecting on a 43-yard completion before Rawles dove in from two yards out. with Hogge booting the extra point.
The game made the final turn to Westfield in the fourth when Eddie Trimpert slipped and was down at the Raiders 37 after slipping attempting a rugby style punt. Westfield went to Rawles six times, receiving assistance from three Raider penalties to take a 22-8 on Rawles third short TD run and a Hogge extra point.
Not much later, Trimpert was nearly dropped for a big loss attempting the same thing, but he got free to deliver a punt that went 60 yards after a long roll.
W: Rawles 1 run (Hogge run)
H: Nittolo 74 run (Levonaitis pass from Nittolo)
W: Rawles 2 run (Hogge kick)
W: Rawles 2 run (Hogge kick)
W: J. Simcox 44 interception return (Hogge kick)
RUSHING: H: Nittolo 18-86, Lazicky 3-10, Delrio 4-6, Trimpert 1-(-9); W: Rawles 36-119, Hogge 3-(-9)
PASSING: H: Nittolo 14-35-3-166; Hogge 10-22-0-133.
RECEIVING: H: Zitel 3-34; Small 2-17, Lazicky 2-40; Delrio 1-12; Levonaitis 4-51; W: Kane 2-19, S. Elliott 4-48, D. Elliott 2-25, Buontempo 1-41, Catanzaro 1-0