SOUTH POINT KNOCKS EAST RUTHERFORD FROM THE RANKS OF THE UNDEFEATED
By: Anthony Perkins
Bostic – Friday night was Homecoming for the East Rutherford Cavaliers when they entertained the South Point Red Raiders in Southwestern 2A Conference action and during the pre-game festivities Morgan McCall was crowned as the Cavalier Queen and during halftime Osha Makerson was crowned the Homecoming Queen. Amid all those ceremonies an important conference clash happened between the 7-0 Cavaliers and the 5-2 Red Raiders and by the time the clock had ticked down to all zeroes the home standing Cavaliers found themselves on the short end of a 35-24 score.
Neither team was able to capitalize on their first two possessions but the Cavaliers managed to dent the scoreboard on their third attempt with a 30-yard field goal by Austin Roderick with less than a minute remaining in the opening stanza.
Frustrations continued in the second quarter for the visiting Red Raiders and their third possession ended when East Rutherford’s Calvin Jones picked a pass from South Point quarterback Keaton Hale at the East 36-yard line. The Cavalier offense took over and covered the 64 yards to the end-zone in just four plays to capture a surprisingly quick 10-0 lead. Fullback Demetrius Mauney capped off the drive with a seven-yard burst with 7:20 remaining in the half.
After falling behind by 10 points the South Point offense came to life on their next drive and a 14-play, 60-yard drive took up most of the remainder of the first half. Jamani Leeper finished the drive on a 7-yard touchdown run as two defenders tried to keep him from stretching into the end-zone at the right pilon. The South Point defense then rose to the occasion and stopped the Cavaliers on downs at the East 37-yard line with less than a minute left in the half and East Rutherford went into the half holding a slim 10-7 lead.
South Point took the first possession of the second half but after a quick three and out the Cavalier offense was back in business at their own 32-yard line. Two plays later, a 37-yard pass from Cameron Simmons to Calvin Jones and a 31-yard run by Mauney pushed the Cavaliers back out to a 17-7 advantage following the extra point.
After Mauney’s second touchdown the Red Raiders turned into a different animal because their next four offensive possessions produced touchdowns. During the remainder of the third quarter fullback Naseem Jones scored on runs of 23 yards and one yard that pushed the Red Raiders out to a 21-17 lead. In the fourth quarter Ray Grier snagged what looked to be about a 15-yard gain from Hale but he was able to shake off two defenders and take it to the house for a 54-yard scoring strike and a 28-17 lead. Jones added his third score of the game on a 14-yard run up the gut for the final South Point score and a 35-17 lead with just over three minutes left in the contest.
During the South Point offensive show the defensive team proved to be equally impressive. Throughout the same sequence they first stopped the Cavaliers on a three and out, then after East Rutherford advanced the ball to the South Point 14 the Red Raider defense stopped them on four consecutive plays for no gain. What would have been the next Cavalier possession never materialized after South Point recovered a forced fumble on a pooch kick-off.
After South Point took the 35-17 lead the second line players took over the game for the Red Raiders. They did allow East Rutherford to score again but it took twelve plays and only 17 seconds were left on the clock after the final Cavalier score.
After the game South Point coach Adam Hodge said, “We made a few minor defensive adjustments and offensive adjustments but except for their (East Rutherford’s) first possession we just played better on offense and the defense tackled better.” Quarterback Keaton Hale also summed up the difference between the two halves very accurately, he said, “South Point is a good second half team and I think we wore them down some in the first half and it just caught up with them in the second half.”
East Rutherford coach Clint Bland also said much the same thing, “Most of our skill players have to play both ways and it takes its toll over the course of a game. But I told our team, we can walk out of here with our heads held high. I was so pleased with the performance and effort of our entire team tonight.” One other note from Coach Bland was on the Grier touchdown for South Point early in the fourth quarter, “We had good coverage on him but he’s a great athlete and he made a great play and that seemed to break our backs.”
Next week East Rutherford (7-1, 1-1) will travel to nearby Chase (3-5, 1-1) to take on the Trojans. South Point (6-2, 2-0) will be back at home for the first time since August 31 to host the Hilltoppers of RS Central (1-7, 0-2)