HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ - For a game that was scheduled at the last moment, Tuesday’s game between Hasbrouck Heights and Cresskill certainly had all the hostilities of a game that had a season-long buildup.
Which is understandable when you consider that the two teams opened the season a little over two months ago against each other, with Hasbrouck Heights defeating the Cougars 28-14.
The Aviators completed the season sweep with a 38-25 victory over Cresskil to improve 4-2 on the season. Cresskill falls to 3-4 with the loss.
The game had a rough start for the Aviators, who took the opening kickoff and drove within the Cresskill five-yard line, only to be turned away on fourth and one when the Cresskill defensive line was able to pull Steven Faussette down from behind before he could pick up the first down.
Cresskill was able to capitalize on the turnover on downs, with Jeremy Connelly scoring one of his three touchdowns on the game, on an 8-yard run, giving the Cougars a 6-0 lead with 54 seconds in the first quarter.
It did not take the Aviators long to respond, as Faussette hit Daniel Viola with a pass down the right side line for a 68 yard score, cutting the lead to 7-6. Hasbrouck Heights, playing without freshman kicker George Kouletas, went for two, with Faussette throwing to Jake Diaz for a 2-point conversion and an 8-7 lead.
Cresskill then took over, pounding the ball on the ground through the Aviators defense, with Connelly scoring from 12 yards and 3 yards to give Cresskill a 19-8 lead with 1:06 remaining in the first half. Cresskill, twice went for two trying to make up for the Aviators two-point conversion, and failed both times.
A Faussette to Rocco Minichiello 31-yard pass down the left sideline with 15 seconds left cut the lead to 19-14, and Faussette's pass to Luke Kest made the score 19-16 at the half.
The Hasbrouck Heights defense, which was not able to slow the Aviators down in the first half, reversed the trend immediately to start the second half, as Jadan Nelson stuffed Connelly on a third and two run for a three-yard loss, forcing Cresskill into the game’s first punt.
Seven plays later, Minichiello put Hasbrouck Heights back in front, scoring on a 29-yard run through the Cresskill defense, to go up 22-19. Faussette and Diaz once again hooked up the conversion, and the Aviators led, 24-19.
Following another defensive stop, the Aviators gave themselves a cushion, with Faussette and Diaz hooking up for an 11-yard score to extend the lead to 30-18. The Cougars were able to stop the conversion.
Hasbrouck Heights pulled away in the fourth quarter as Minichiello broke a 44-yard run to put the Aviators up 36-19. Faussette hit Viola in the corner of the end zone to increase the score to 38-19.
Cresskill’s Kyle Henderson hit Kiel McGee with a four-yard pass in the final minute to close out the scoring.
The victory gives first-year head coach Bryan Ille a 4-2 final record in this most unusual of seasons. It is also the 17th straight season that Aviators finished over 500.