PATERSON, NJ- In a non-conference match, Paterson’s Silk City Sharks’ football squad fell short to the New Jersey Hawkeyes by a score of 36-12. Despite taking a 12-0 lead over the visitors from Newark, the fish fell prey to several big plays in suffering their first loss of the season.
From the opening coin toss, the contest featured much jawing back and forth between players from both sides,a dn eventually ended by referees, with seven minutes in regulation, after a late hit and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
Despite the outcome, Sharks’ Vice-President Mike Harris remained upbeat.
“This is what we needed,” Harris said after the contest. “They out footballed us. Next week we play our conference opponent, the Long Island Mercenaries. Both teams are undefeated (in conference play). We are 5-0 and they are 6-0.”
The Sharks opted to receive the opening kickoff.
With Jameir Jackson split left, the handoff went to running back Markeith Williamson. A nice gain resulted, courtesy of a power block by 6’ 1”, 230 pound right guard Syheem Farrar. Sharks’ signal caller David Huffin then rolled right, avoiding heavy pressure. His perfect 25-yard aerial found Deon Davis downfield. After a sideline pass missed its mark, Huffin fired complete over the middle to running back Marquese Marrero for another first down.
Now well into Hawkeye territory, several Sharks’ running plays gained short yardage. With 4th and two from the 30 yard line, Sharks’ Head Coach Charles Mills chose to have Huffin line up in the shotgun. The veteran field general gathered in the hike, momentarily hesitated, and ran right. Huffin then pulled up to throw. The bullet went to Davis for a diving, clutch catch in the right corner of the end zone and a touchdown. Excellent protection on the play was provided by left tackle Elijah McKenzie, left guard Miles Lesane-Hunt, Farrar, and right tackle Jaqueise Enzor.
The ensuing offensive series by New Jersey was initiated by a sweep right which lost six yards courtesy of a stop by fish defenseman Messiah Quinones. A flea-flicker, half back pass attempt by the Hawkeyes was then picked off in the Sharks’ secondary.
The Sharks’ first play, a pitch right, was successful but called back due to a holding infraction. On 2nd and 21, Huffin scrambled for six yards. After taking the next snap, Huffin rolled right and sighted Jackson downfield. As if communicating by telepathy, Jackson adjusted his rout pattern after being blanketed by a defender. Huffin continued to scramble right and waited until the very last moment, allowing his receiver to break free. The perfect pass found its mark. Silk City backfield workhorse, Rufus Carroll, then banged off Enzor for three more yards. A spectacular catch was made by Jackson in the end zone but was called back due to a penalty. Not to be discouraged, Huffin bolted in on the next play from 12 yards out for the score.
The 12-0 Sharks’ lead proved to be short lived. The excellent kickoff by Henry Fernandez of the fish was caught by the Hawkeyes’ return man around his own 20-yard line. Following a wall of blockers, the runner bolted left and changed course, right, at mid-field. When the dust had settled, the kickoff had been returned 80 yards for a score. The 2-point attempt was good, cutting the Sharks’ lead to 12-8.
On Paterson’s subsequent offensive possession, Huffin attempted to pass, could find no receivers open, but charged up field for a 1st down. On the next play, Huffin scrambled right but lost the football. After being hit, the Sharks’ signal caller fell to the turf and temporarily laid motionless. As crowd noise fell to a hush, athletic trainer Nick Semeniak rushed onto the field. To the relief of one and all, Huffin was able to walk to the sidelines with assistance. Later in the contest, Huffin revealed he had dislocated his kneecap. Huffin was replaced by Rashawn Ison for the remainder of the game.
With a 1st and 10 at the Sharks’ 20, the Hawkeyes wasted little time in scoring. Despite a no-gainer on their first running attempt courtesy of a hard, combined hit by Paterson’s Reinaldo Algarin and Dachonn Johnson, a 15-yard New Jersey run was followed by a 1-yard QB scoring sneak. Again, the 2-point conversion attempt succeeded and the Hawkeyes owned their first lead of the contest, 14-12.
The ensuing kickoff was fielded at the Sharks’ 45 yard line. Ison’s first pass attempt, to Davis, was on target for a pickup of 12 yards. However, several incompletions forced a punting situation. The hike sailed over Fernandez’s head. After recovering the pigskin at the Sharks’ 25 yard line, two running plays resulted in another Hawkeye touchdown. This time the 2-point extra point effort, a pass, was intercepted by the Sharks’ Quinones. Late in the second frame, the scoreboard read, New Jersey 20, Paterson 12.
The Sharks’ offensive woes continued on the next series as another snap went awry. However, Huffin was able to pick up the ball, avoid a furious pass rush, and throw the ball out of bounds. A short Hawkeyes’ drive was stalled by a quarterback sack by Sharks’ linebacker Joshua DuBose and the hard hitting of Kadeen Cousar. The two squads then traded interceptions. However, another pickoff by the Hawkeyes was returned for a score.
A second half 35-yard touchdown run by New Jersey padded the score to the final tally before the game was called.
The Sharks’ next contest will be an away game on Saturday, September 15, against the Long Island Mercenaries. On September 22, the Sharks travel to play the New York Warriors. The fish return to the friendly confines of Baurle Field, on September 20, to host the Long Island Mercenaries.