CRANFORD, NJ – Students, parents, graduates and more filled the bleachers Friday night to watch Cranford defeat Rahway, 24-14, in the team’s home opener.
The game was off to a rough start for the Cougars with the score still at 0-0 at the end of the first quarter. Starting in the second quarter, Rahway took control of the ball and gained a steady lead, finishing the first half with a score of 0-14.
During halftime, the CHS Marching Band took the field to perform their show, “The Music of Karl Jenkins” as the team listened to a pep talk from Coach Erik Rosenmeier.
The game quickly turned around for the Cougars in the third quarter after no. 33, junior Owen Ballweg, fell on a backward pass from Rahway, taking control of the ball for Cranford. Quarterback Daniel Curren threw the ball to running back Joshua Cadet, scoring the Cougars their first touchdown. An additional point was scored by Valentino Ambrosio, bringing the score to 7-14 less than a minute into the quarter.
Minutes later, Ambrosio tied the game 14-14 with an extra point after Curren ran it in for the touchdown. Curren scored his third touchdown of the night in the same quarter, bringing the score to 21-14 as the bleachers, marching band and cheerleaders erupted in music and applause.
Rahway attempted to tie the game in the fourth quarter, but an interception by Cranford allowed the team to hold their lead. Ambrosio drove the win home with a field goal with one minute left on the clock, ending the game 24-14.
The game was a big win for the Cougars, who suffered a big hit after starting quarterback Connor Katz broke his wrist and underwent surgery Friday morning.
“Dan Curren came in and did a great job and so did the other kids,” Rosenmeier said. “Sometimes when you face a little adversity, it can go either way and they rallied around it, played hard and did a nice job. Katz had surgery this morning and he was here on the sidelines. I don’t think anyone was happier than him and it shows the kind of kid he is. I was really happy to see that.”
Before Friday’s game, Cranford stood at 0-2 for the season.
“It really was a big win and we needed it,” Rosenmeier said. “I’m really proud of the kids because it certainly didn’t look like we were going to win. We were down 14-nothing, we couldn’t move the ball on offense and Rahway was really starting to take the game. I asked the defense to come out and get a turnover and they were able to respond right away and the offense then responded and it really changed the momentum of the game.”
Friday’s game was Cranford’s first home game. The Cougars won’t play home again until Friday, Oct. 13.
“I did talk to them before the game about protecting your home field, protecting what’s yours,” Rosenmeier said. “Do not let people come into your house and take away what you’ve built. In the last 22 home games, we’re 21-1. I said ‘that’s their burden, not yours.’ I hope that hit home with them because they should feel like they have an advantage here. A lot of people before them worked hard to make it that way.”
Cranford will play North Plainfield on Thursday, Sept. 28 at 7 p.m.