GARFIELD, NJ - It was a Saturday morning slugfest. And the scoring started before everyone had finished their morning coffee.
Jake Diaz returned the opening kickoff 85 yards, and converted the extra point, and the Aviators had a 7-0 lead before you could blink. (Diaz’s extra point cleared the goal post, the fence behind the posts, and disappeared into someone’s backyard, not to be found again.)
Garfield bounced right back, taking the Aviators kickoff to Heights 35 to start their offense. The Boilermakers scored on a five-yard touchdown pass six plays, later, but failed on the conversion, and the Aviators had a 7-6 lead.
The defenses settled in after that, as each team’s defense shut down the others. Then came the turnover battle, as Jadan Nelson knocked the ball free, and Massimo Vignola recovered to put Hasbrouck Heights in scoring position. But the Boilermakers not only returned the favor, but did them one better just three plays later.
On second and 17, the Aviators tried a trick play, with Hunter Freschi taking the ball on a reverse, and attempting a pass down the field. The Garfield defense was not fooled, intercepting the pass and returning for a touchdown, taking a 12-7 lead. The Boilermakers two-point play was successful, and the had a 14-7 lead going into the half.
Trailing for the first time as high schoolers, the Aviators defense stiffened in the third quarter, and into the fourth. With 6:05 remaining in the game, Diaz cut the lead to 14-13, scampering 20 yards into the end zone around the right side. Then with the Aviators in overshift to the right, Hunter Freschi slammed the ball up the middle for a two point conversion, and an Aviator 15-14 lead.
Once again, the Aviators defense, which had struggled earlier in the game stopping the bigger Garfield team’s running game, came through, forcing a fourth and five with 4:02 remaining in the game. The Boilermakers were penalized for a false start, and facing a fourth and 10, punted the ball away.
Diaz and Freschi made Garfield regret the decision.
Freschi started the drive with a 17 yard run. Diaz went for 19, moving the ball into Boilermaker territory. After Freschi went for three, Diaz went for two yards, setting up a third and five from the 35 yard line. Diaz went around the left side, broke three tackles, while going the distance, giving the Aviators a 21-14 lead, prior to the conversion.
The Aviators once again went for two points, and once again Freschi rammed the ball up the middle, making it a two-score game, at 23-14, with less than two minutes remaining in the game.
.The freshmen have their first home game of the season on Thursday evening, against Butler at 7 pm at Depken Stadium.
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