SUMMIT, NJ - In the Summit Varsity Football team's first four games, each of which they won handily, the game was in control --- and essentially over -- by halftime. Fortunately for the Hilltoppers, that was not the case Saturday versus Rahway, as Summit went into the break down by 14 points after two quarters that saw them, in the words of their Head Coach Kevin Kostibos, "dominated". Forced to play four quarters of intense, hard-nosed football, Summit responded with a late second-half surge, reeling off the game's final 20 points, and beating Rahway 26-20 to remain undefeated.
Three first-half touchdowns by the Indians' quarterback Jeffrey Bost, who led a quick, physical offense that capitalized on erratic Summit play, favorable field position aided by a sputtering Summit offense, as well as several penalties, had given Rahway a 20-5 lead. It had also provided the Hiilltoppers with their first serious dose of adversity this season. During halftime, Summit regrouped, made some key adjustments, and had a talk. "We said it is all about pride in the second half, having no regrets at the end of the game. Our senior leaders stepped up, and we reminded each other that we have been in this position before -- we were down two touchdowns to Delaware Valley last year -- and we just had to believe," said Kostibos.
After a first half that offered few Summit highlights, which included a blocked extra-point by Mac Wiesner and a Charlie Terry to Andrew Masterfano 9-yard touchdown pass, the initial stage of the third quarter was pretty much more of the same. And, although the Hilltopper offense could not take advantage of the turnover, John Cordrey's stripping the ball after a Rahway completion turned the game's momentum in Summit's favor. Kostibos said the play made a big impact, "Once we were able to right the ship, get better field position, and then get the ball in the hands of our playmakers, the game changed."
Playing against a talented Indians team that used many of the same players on offense and defense, Summit began to pound the ball on the ground, and the wear and tear was clear to see in the fourth quarter, with many of Rahway's players visibly fatigued and hunched over after each play. Colm Dougherty began to run the ball down the throat of the Rahway defense, with even his three yards carries impressive in their toughness and physicality. When Dougherty, who ran the ball 23 times for 130 yards, was not eluding or running by Rahway defenders, he was slamming into them and, in many cases, running over them. Early in the final quarter, Dougherty galloped 24 yards to the end zone, and Summit had narrowed the gap to 20-12 after a failed extra-point.
The Hilltopper defense, which began forcing Rahway into longer third down conversions, held on the next series. Forced to punt, the ball was snapped over the head of the Rahway punter, causing a scuffed kick and mad scramble, Summit somehow maintained possession, and soon scored again. This time, starting from the Rahway 30, Terry and Dougherty did the damage, and Caleb Sink punched it over from the one. The two-point conversion was successful, and it was tied at 20 with seven minutes to go. Another series stop on defense, and it was Summit's ball on their own 35 with just over five minutes remaining. Faced with a s fourth and 5 from Rahway's 45, Kostibos showed faith in his offense and was rewarded with Dougherty rumbling for eight yards and a first down. Several plays later, Terry hit Zanelli for 13 yards to put the ball inside the five. Three plays later it was Dougherty going in for the score and, although the extra point again failed, Summit had the lead at 26-20 with less than 30 seconds left in the game.
On the ensuing kickoff, the ball was squibbed and gathered by a Rahway up-back who fumbled after a big Summit special teams hit. The Hilltoppers recovered and ran out the clock. "This is one of the greatest comebacks I have ever been part of," said Kostibos. "I could not be any more proud of this team."