SOMERVILLE, NJ - In the Friday Night Lights home game opener for Immaculata, the Spartans suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Summit Hilltoppers by the score of 14-13.
The Spartans had a chance to go ahead at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but fumbled the ball at the Hilltoppers’ three-yard line.
The game was preceded by a tribute and ceremonies for Summit Police Detective and Somerville resident Matthew Tarentino. The game was played at Somerville High School’s Brooks Field.
Tarentino, 29, a lifelong resident of Somerville and a 2006 graduate of Immaculata High School, was killed in a three-car accident on Route 78 on his way to work May 30. He was promoted to the rank of Detective posthumously.
His widow, Vickie, who graduated Immaculata one year before Tarentino and their two sons, Robbie and Ray, participated in the tribute, with both sons invited to run a play on the field with the captains and coaches of the Spartans and visiting Hilltoppers.
The couple has a third child, Anastasia, who was born last month
The schools’ marching bands combined on the field to perform the National Anthem and God Bless America; the Somerset County Sheriff Department’s Honor Guard presented the colors.
Members of both towns’ police departments were in attendance.
The Spartans are now 1-1, having beaten Plainfield High School 24-0 to start the 2017 season. Immaculata’s next game is Saturday, Sept. 23, a 1 p.m. start on the road against Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School.
Summit jumped out early to a 7-0 lead on their second play from scrimmage. Immaculata answered on the next play with Stephen Dwyer's 60-yard TD reception from quarterback Nate Barnett. The defenses settled things down after the quick start, forcing a series of punts to finish the first quarter in a 7-7 tie.
Summit started the 2nd quarter strong with a 61-yard drive to take a 14-7 lead. Immaculata came back with a 30-yard TD run by Lord Jones to close the game to 14-13.
Jimmy Kerwin ended Summit's next drive with an interception at the Spartans 29-yard line. Summit forced an Immaculata punt, but muffed the return and Frank McGuire scooped up the loose ball for the Spartans.
The Spartans drove the ball to the Hilltoppers' 12-yard line, but turned the ball over on downs. Summit drove the ball down to the Spartans' 36, but Matt Lynch sacked the Hilltoppers' quarterback to end the first half at 14-13.
The Spartan defense set the tone to start the second half with three straight QB sacks, two by Matt Lynch and one by Frank McGuire to force the Hilltoppers' punt. The teams exchanged possessions for the rest of the third quarter, ending with the Spartans on the Summit three-yard line.
The Spartans fumbled to start the fourth, missing an opportunity to take the lead. A key sack by Christian Callahan with 5:53 left in the fourth quarter forced a Summit punt and the Spartans took over on their own 38. The Spartans could not move the ball and Summit ran out the clock to finish the game.