NEW PROVIDENCE On the game’s first two plays from scrimmage the New Providence High School football team tested The Pingry School with a pair of deep throws down the left sideline, with no success.
On its third play New Providence handed off to Anthony DelDuca, who reeled off a 26-yard touchdown run to unleash a relentless, multi-pronged ground attack that amassed 299 yards and contributed three touchdowns as the Pioneers defeated the Big Blue for the seventh year in a row with a 34-7 triumph in its home opener on Saturday
As effective as its running attack was, New Providence was even more efficient on defense, limiting Pingry to just 49 yards of total offense, 20 on the ground. The Big Blue managed just five first downs, earning just one over a 36-minute span that began late in the first quarter.
“Last year we did a very poor job defensively, we gave up over 20 points a game, and coming into this season that’s been a total focus of ours,” New Providence coach Joe Carollo said. “We had a good day on that side of the football.”
Carollo called for the opening passes to the goal line, following John Slater’s 59-yard return of the opening kick to the Pingry 26, in an effort to jump start the Pioneers’ passing game and sophomore quarterback Jackson Barletta. Barletta found Michael Palmieri open in the middle of the end zone from 10 yards out for New Providence’s second touchdown, which came on the first play of the second quarter, and added a 1-yard keeper with 34 seconds remaining in the half to give the Pioneers a 21-0 cushion at the break.
New Providence’s running game was particularly effective in the first half, with seven players combining for 207 yards on 22 carries. The balanced attack was led by Nick Falkowski (five carries, 89 yards), Andy Urness (12-for-75) and Barletta (11-for-68).
“We have so many different weapons this year, we have four or five different backs who can just run the ball extremely well,” said center/tackle Colin Forbes, one of several two-way performers on New Providence’s dominant lines. “Another good thing is that it keeps them fresh, being able to go between different guys, knowing that they’re all going to do well. It’s just been a real blessing to have all of those guys this year.”
Just when it appeared that New Providence was about to break the game open Joe Possumato responded by returning the second-half kickoff 83 yards for a touchdown to reduce the margin to 21-7, where it would remain until just five minutes were left in the contest. Possumato had quite a busy afternoon as he also intercepted a pass, ran the ball twice, kicked Pingry’s extra point and punted a whopping nine times.
Pingry shut out New Providence over its next four possessions, limiting the Pioneers to just three first downs in the entire second half.
“I told them after the game that this type of effort will reward them at some point,” Pingry coach Chris Shilts said. “I love the effort that we played with. I told them to be upset with the loss but proud of the effort.”
The game was closer than the score indicated, at least before Falkowski exploded for a 44-yard touchdown scamper with five minutes to play. Urness capped the scoring with a 46 yard interception return with 59 seconds remaining.
PINGRY (1-2) 0-0-7-0-7
NEW PROVIDENCE (3-0) 7-14-0-13-34
NP – DelDuca 26 run (Martin kick)
NP – Palmieri 10 pass from Barletta (Martin kick)
NP – Barletta 1 run (Martin kick)
P – Possumato 83 kick return (Possumato kick)
NP – Falkowski 44 run (kick failed)
NP – Urness 46 interception return (Martin kick)
Rushing – P: Moss 10-17, Possumato 2-6, Chang 1-2, Legrand 2-2, Spellman 9-minus 2, Aanstoots 3-minus 2, Carr 3-minus 3; NP: Falkowski 5-89, Urness 12-75, Barletta 11-68, DelDuca 4-37, Stumpf 1-17, Slater 1-7, Pecca 3-6.
Passing – P: Spellman 3-11-1-29, Legrand 0-1-0-0; NP: Barletta 4-14-2-29.
Receiving – P: Horn 1-16, Moss 2-13; NP: Pecca 1-15, Palmieri 1-10, DelDuca 1-4, Slater 1-0 .