SUMMIT, NJ - The Summit football team came out with a little extra fire for the annual Friday Night Lights football game, at Investors Bank Field in the Tatlock Sports Complex, in front of a standing-room only crowd. While the Rahway Indians came in looking to get a big road win, they instead were steamrolled from beginning to end, with the Hilltoppers easily cruising to a 39-20 win. Summit improved to 5-0 and increased their regular season winning streak to 31 games.
"I thought our team really played well tonight," said Summit head coach John Liberato. "We jumped out on them early, we played with a lot of confidence tonight."
In what was perhaps the team's best performance of the season, Summit took an early 25-0 lead midway through the second quarter, and never looked back. The Hilltoppers rushed for 291 yards, with Mr. Everything, Mike Badgley, pounding out 159 yards and a touchdown, while also throwing a touchdown pass to Will Shamim, and making a 24-yard field goal.
"We came out here and there was a great atmosphere," Badgley said after the win. "We had the lights here at home and the crowd was going nuts at the beginning of the game. We just wanted to perform well for each other and play hard out there."
At the start of the second quarter, following a Summit turnover, the Indians found themselves in Hilltopper territory, down just 11-0, with a first and 10 at the Summit 21. But Shamim intercepted Rahway in the end-zone, returning the ball 41 yards to Summit's own 39. Hilltopper quarterback, Tyler Carbone, wasted no time capitalizing, finding Kyre Negron for a touchdown strike, on a beautiful 61-yard seam pattern. With 11:30 left to play in the opening half, the Hilltoppers had opened up an 18-point lead, and the rout was on.
Ten plays later, Badgley put Summit up by 25 points, when he hit Shamim in the end zone, for a 50-yard score. With time running down in the opening half, Rahways' Jalanie Mitchell scooped up a Summit fumble and returned it 26-yards to the house, giving Rahway a little momentum with 3:09 left in the second quarter.
That momentum lasted all of 11 seconds. Negron took the ensuing kickoff 85-yards down the right sideline for a touchdown, putting the locals up 32-6.
"I think that changed their momentum and once that happened, they just gave up after that. The momentum wasn't there for them," Negron said.
Rahway was able to get into the end-zone again before halftime however, using an 11-yard scamper by Greg Roberts to cut Summit's lead to 19 points at halftime.
"We had to jump out on them early, they're an explosive team, they have the potential to score anytime they touch the ball," Liberato said. "They have a lot of kids who are very talented and with their coaching staff, they do a great job. We're very pleased, this was a great win for us."
A late third quarter touchdown run by A.J. Iarussi, from three-yards out, gave Summit a 39-13 lead, and put the Hilltoppers on cruise control just before the final quarter. Rahway's Gabril Gross scored the final touchdown of the game (against Summit's second defensive unit), coming from 25-yards out. Gross rushed for a team-high 105 yards.
"I thought we played great today," Iarussi said. "I thought on offense we were clicking and on defense we were so aggressive, everyone was hitting, everyone was trying to jump the routes. I thought we really looked sharp today."
A 57-yard touchdown run, straight up the middle of the field by Badgley, gave the locals a 9-0 lead with under three minutes to play in the first quarter. On Rahway's ensuing drive, Summit forced a three-and-out, and on the fourth down punt, the snap sailed high over Rahway's punter's head and into the end-zone. An Indian managed to fall on the ball, but he was tackled in the end zone for a safety, giving Summit an 11-0 lead and the ball back, still in the opening quarter.
"That was our goal this week, to just go as fast-paced as we could, we just wanted to keep pounding and pounding that ball," Badgley said.
Aside from the safety, Summit's defense came up with some game-changing, momentum killing plays, including three turnovers and three quarterback sacks. This is especially impressive being that Rahway came into the game with a 3-1 record, having scored 30 or more points in three of four games played.
Iarussi picked up two sacks in the game, along with a fumble recovery. Shahim and Nicholas Watts each intercepted a pass in the end zone for Summit.
Along with the game being Summit's only home night game of the season, which coincided with alumni night, Summit was presented with the Investor's Bank Cup for the win. In addition, Mike Badgely was selected by Rahway's coaches to receive a $500 scholarship, while Rahway's Justin Becker was selected by Summit's coaches to receive the same.
Summit will look to improve to 6-0 next Saturday in Roselle.