HILLSIDE, NJ - In an unexpectedly low-scoring defensive struggle, Hillside defeated Bernards, 21-3, in the semifinal round of the Central Jersey, Group 2 football playoffs Saturday afternoon.
Neither team was able to penetrate the other's defense during a scoreless first half. Hillside (10-0) finally broke through with an 84-yard touchdown run by James Louis early in the third quarter, but Bernards (8-2) kept it close with a 30-yard field goal by sophomore Steven Lopez to close out a long drive with 4:32 left in the third quarter.
Hillside scored again late in the third quarter to open a 13-3 lead on Shadon Willis' run from the 4. Louis scored again from 2 yards out in the fourth quarter for the Comets.
Sophomore quarterback Teddy Gouldin completed 11 of 17 passes for 125 yards for the Mountaineers, but Hillside's big, fast defense was able to contain Bernards' normally explosive running game, holding the Mountaineers to 60 rushing yards. Twice in the first quarter, Bernards penetrated the Hillside 25-yard line, but the first time the Mountaineers were stopped on downs at the 14, and the second time they turned it over on the 22.
Bernards is the only team that has been able to stay within four touchdowns of normally high-scoring Hillside. In fact, the Mountaineers have done it twice, losing, 23-13, to Hillside in the regular season. Bernards, which beat every other team it played this season, limited Hillside to a season-low 21 points in the playoff game.
The future appears bright for Bernards, which returns a host of juniors and sophomores who played key roles on this year's team.