ROSELLE PARK, NJ - The distance between New Providence playing in the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2 Group 2 final next week or watching from the bleachers was one-yard. A failed two-point conversion in the fourth quarter decided the fate of the Pioneers, as they fell to Roselle Park 21-13 in Friday’s state semifinal at Roselle Park High School.
With New Providence behind 14-7 and 2:06 to play in the game, Pioneer running back Vinny Sidoli rushed for a 7-yard touchdown, capping a drive where he rushed for 48 yards to put the Pioneers down one.
New Providence head coach Joe Carollo risked the tie game, instead opting for a two-point conversion to take the late lead.
On the conversion attempt, Derek Singer ran towards the end zone, but as he leaped in the air, the ball hit a helmet of a Panther lineman, causing a fumble. Roselle Park recovered the loose football, denying the Pioneers the lead.
“At the end of the day we have to execute,” Carollo said. “We made the decision to go for two. The play was there. Whether or not it crossed the goal line or not is irrelevant. We took our chance to win the football game and sometimes you win and sometimes you don’t.”
On the ensuing onside kick, New Providence failed to recover the ball legally, then allowed Panther running back Ryan Matthews to run for a 49-yard touchdown on their first play, giving Roselle Park a 21-13 lead.
The Pioneers got the ball back with 1:52 remaining. After Sidoli advanced the ball to the Roselle Park 41-yard line on a 22-yard run, New Providence fumbled on 4th and 10. Roselle Park recovered and sealed their trip to the state championship.
Matthews and Juan Carmona carried the offensive load for the Panthers. Aside from the final touchdown, Matthews scored on a 10-yard run to take a 14-7 on Roselle Park’s first possession of the second half. While Carmona bruised the Pioneer defense, enroute to a one-yard touchdown run on the Panther’s first drive of the game.
Carollo did not know how his defense got beat, but gave credit to the Roselle Park running back tandem.
“Sometimes guys just want it,” Carollo said. “I tip my cap to (Carmona). He ran like he was possessed. God bless him, we wish him all the best. If he runs like that at Giants Stadium, he’ll be bringing a state championship to Roselle Park.”
With the loss, New Providence’s season comes to end. The Pioneers finished the year with an 8-3 record and one win shy of making the state playoffs.
Despite learning the system of their third head coach in as many years, the Pioneers season was a success overall, but Carollo said that doesn’t change the fact that they fell short of their season’s goals.
“We don’t make excuses here,” he said. “This is New Providence football. Our expectation is to win conference championships. Our expectations are to win state championships. That doesn’t mean sometimes you don’t get beat. We got beat tonight.”