WEST ORANGE, NJ – Suriano Stadium hosted a high scoring football game Friday night, as the West Orange Mountaineers defeated the Seton Hall Pirates by a score of 51-34. This was Seton Hall Prep's first loss of the season.
Homecoming festivities, originally scheduled for halftime at tonight's game, were postponed until next Friday beginning at 5:30 pm, but the Mountaineers still had a game to play against a rival team that had defeated them three out of four years. West Orange Head Coach Jim Matsakis, wanting to make it clear that rivalry aside, the team was expected to focus, dig in, and play, as he called it, “Just another game.”
The game had several turnovers by both teams, including three lost fumbles in the first half, two of them by Seton Hall. Seton Hall Head Coach John Finnegan said “early in the game there were too many turnovers and West Orange took advantage.”
West Orange Head Coach Jim Matsakis liked the way his defense played and said, “It was the first time all year the defense ran to the ball and caused a lot of turnovers and fumbles.”
One of the fumbles put West Orange in great field position, as West Orange senior quarterback Jahir Blanton was able to cap off a 30 yard drive with a one yard sneak into the end zone. The extra point would make it 7-0, with 8:33 left in the first quarter.
About six minutes later, West Orange scored again, this time thanks to a 19 yard touchdown run by senior running back McDerby Ceneus followed by an extra point, making the score 14-0, ending the first quarter.
Early in the second quarter, West Orange added to their lead when senior running back Jean Charles ran 50 yards to the end zone for a touchdown. The score now stood 21-0 in West Orange’s favor.
After a 40-yard field goal by senior kicker Christian Samusenko, making the score 24-0, Seton Hall finally responded to West Orange’s 24 unanswered points with a 2 yard touchdown run by senior running back Andrew Harmon with 7:57 left in the second half. The extra point made the score 24-7.
West Orange added another touchdown on a two yard run by senior running back David Grant to gain a 31-7 advantage. The touchdown by Grant was the last score of the first half, as West Orange went into the halftime locker room with a 24 point lead.
Seton Hall attempted a significant comeback in the second half as they performed a surprise onside kick to start the half. Quarterback Zach Keller led the Pirates down the field on a touchdown drive capped off by a 26 yard touchdown pass to Vin Nisivoccia. A failed two point conversion would leave the score at 31-13. On their next drive, Seton Hall produced a one yard touchdown run by Julian Spain and another failed two point conversion to narrow the gap and cut the lead to 12.
West Orange, however, did not allow the Pirates an opportunity as they scored the next two touchdowns, one on a 56-yard reception by Isaiah Scott from Jarod Vyent, and the other on a 33 yard touchdown run by McDerby Ceneus. The third quarter ended with a score of 44-19.
Any other scoring after that point only padded statistics. Seton Hall scored twice in the fourth, once on a 5 yard run by MJ Mughetto and the other on a touchdown pass from Zach Keller to Donald Stewart. West Orange added one more score on a 23 yard run by Jaasan Eley. The final score was 51-34 in West Orange’s favor.
Both teams now have a record of 4-1. Coach Finnegan said his players could “learn from it and move forward.”
Coach Matsakis had high praise for his quarterback Jahir Blanton as he called him “the most improved player on the team.”
“We will enjoy one night of celebration, then work hard over the week,” said Matsakis as West Orange turns their attention to a 2-2 Nutley team at Friday night’s Homecoming Game.
Seton Hall will look to bounce back from their first loss on Friday night in South Orange against Columbia.