MILLBURN, NJ - The James Caldwell High School football team held on to defeat Millburn, 27-21, on Friday despite the Millers’ last-minute drive and hail mary attempt that resulted in an interception.
Caldwell running back Raymond Iodice, who had 193 yards rushing and two touchdowns on the day, sealed the game with the interception in front of his endzone.
“I was just in the right place at the right time,” Iodice said. “We kept battling. We’re a family so we knew couldn't let each other down.”
Iodice put the Chiefs on the board in the first quarter with a 5-yard touchdown run, capping an 80-yard opening drive. The drive was highlighted by key first downs from Iodice, Jack Kinney and Thomas Giuliano.
The Millers responded on the ensuing possession when quarterback Jared Harris connected with Evan Steinfeld for a 56-yard touchdown pass to even the score.
Caldwell added a field goal before the end of the first quarter and a touchdown on its next possession when Iodice ran for a 50-yard score.
With only 38 seconds remaining in the first half, Steinfeld lined up to punt, but the Chiefs’ busted through the line and blocked the kick, giving Caldwell the ball at Millburn’s 17-yard line. Quarterback Joe Salter hooked up with Kinney for a touchdown on the second play, giving the Chiefs a 24-7 lead at halftime.
The Millers scored first after Dean Schweinler intercepted Salter which set up Harris for a 16-yard rushing touchdown with seven minutes left in the third. Harris continued to impress on the Millers’ next drive when he scrambled for seven yards on fourth down, and stretched the ball just inches beyond the marker to keep the drive alive. Harris capped the drive off with a 1-yard touchdown run to bring Milburn within three.
“We got too comfortable,” Iodice said. “We got too comfortable with the score and that was the same problem we had last week against Orange.”
Iodice returned the ensuing kickoff into Miller territory which ultimately led to a field goal by Kinney with less than nine minutes left in the game.
With just over three to go, Caldwell turned the ball over on downs and gave Millburn the ball on its own 34-yard line, but the Millers could not find the endzone.
“We have to be more consistent, that's what it comes down to,” Chiefs’ head coach Ken Trimmer said. “But it was a great game. They’re the best 1-6 team we’ll ever play.”
The Millers will play under the lights at Belleville next Friday and the Chiefs will play at Irvington next Saturday at 2:30 p.m.