CLARK, NJ - The Johnson Crusaders varsity football team battled through the cold air, rain and wind against the Governor Livingston Highlanders as they sought their first win of the 2015 season, and they grinded through in their Pink-Out game Friday night in Clark for a 12-0 victory.
The game was scoreless after one quarter of play, with neither team getting a major drive going in the opening quarter.
The game’s first score came in the second quarter, when Johnson QB senior and co-captain Anthony Rizzuto capping off a 14-play, 56-yard drive, by connecting for a 10-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Ryan Koppel, to put the Crusaders ahead 6-0 with 6:58 left in that quarter. A two-point attempt following the touchdown fell short.
They would head into halftime with that 6-0 lead. The Crusaders put another 6 points on the board in the fourth quarter, sealing the victory at 12-0.
Crusaders head coach Anthony DelConte said that the offensive line was a critical reason for the victory.
“Our offensive line,” DelConte said. “They struggled a little bit at times, but when we needed to run behind them to seal the deal, they were able to get the job done and they paved the way at the end.”
“There wasn’t a doubt in our minds that we were just going to continue pounding the rock, because they [offensive line] were feeling it, they were in great shape, they were conditioned. They had it in the eye, I could see it in the huddle when I had the kids in. There was no doubt that we were going to continue running behind those guys, because they wanted to seal the deal for us,” DelConte added.
For the Highlanders, Haddad finished 1-4 with 15 passing yards. Senior Evan Lerch ran the ball 18 times for 75 yards, while senior Steve Sottosanti finished with 5 rushes for 29 yards.
Highlanders head coach Dan Guyton felt that the game was a close contest, and that it came down to getting first points in drives.
“I thought both teams played hard. You got to give it to Coach DelConte and the Crusaders, I thought they played hard,” Guyton said. “I think both teams handled the elements very well, with ball control and everything else. They [the Crusaders] were able to convert first downs, and put the ball in the end zone. They were the better team tonight.”
The game was temporarily stopped with 1:59 left in the first quarter at 7:18pm, and a moment of silence was held for Evan Murray, the 17-year old Warren Hills QB who died from a lacerated spleen and internal bleeding last week after taking a hit in their game against Summit High School.
The Governor Livingston Highlanders (1-3) face off against Somerville High School next Saturday at home, October 10, at 1 p.m.
Editor's Note: Lauren Boyd contributed to this article.