ELIZABETH, NJ – Behind a stout defense that didn’t allow a score until the final minute of the game, the Westfield High School varsity football team held on to defeat the Elizabeth Minutemen Friday, 13-7, extending their state-best winning streak to 19 games.
It took more than two quarters of play for the game to see its first score, but the Blue Devils took the lead when senior Philip Martini scored on an 8-yard quarterback option (extra point good) three and a half minutes into the 3rd quarter.
“[Martini] read it well and he knows he has the option to run it,” Westfield head coach Jim DeSarno said. “He made a great read there; they were really over-pursuing and he did a great job.”
Good field position was key to the Blue Devils early second half score. After forcing a three-and-out on three consecutive plays that resulted in a loss of yards, Westfield senior Jack Shirk returned a long punt deep into Minutemen territory.
“I liked the way our kids played in the second half, they didn’t let the pressure of where the game was get to them,”coach DeSarno said. “We came out and got a great first stop on defense then our offense came in and scored shortly after, which was huge.”
Westfield forced another three-and-out and took over on their own 32-yard line. However, they lost a fumble on the very next play and the Minutemen took over in scoring position. Yet another strong defensive stand allowed Westfield to get the ball back.
After leading a methodical drive that featured a healthy combination of run and pass plays, Martini connected on a 19-yard strike to junior wide receiver Adam McDaniel (kick failed) to extend the Blue Devils lead to 13-0.
Defensive back Ishmael Glasco, who also played well at running back ended the Minutemen’s next drive with a diving interception.
After chewing up most of the clock in the fourth quarter, Elizabeth had one last shot to lead a comeback. Jahmin Muse of the Minutemen split the Westfield defense on several scrambles including a crucial 4th down conversion at mid-field before connecting on a long touchdown pass to teammate Christopher McCrary (kick good). That brought the game to within a touchdown with only 50 seconds left to go.
After a failed onsides kick try, the game was all but over as Westfield ran out the clock on their next four plays.
“The kids didn’t panic,” DeSarno said, praising his team. “When you’re winning all these games, it’s easy to play on top, but when you’re not on top, it can be a little harder. They kept their cool and composure and I’m real proud of them today.”
DeSarno had nothing but praise for his opponents following the game and credited their improved coaching staff.
“This is a good team,” Coach DeSarno told his team. “Don’t be surprised if we see them again.”
The Blue Devils play Immaculate next at home on Saturday, Oct. 22, at 1 p.m.