WALLINGTON, NJ - In a heated and physical contest, Wallington defeated Wood-Ridge, 16-14, in a NJIC Patriot Division game Saturday afternoon Wallington. The Panthers improved to 4-2 on the season, while the Blue Devils fell to 3-4 overall, and 3-3 in the Patriot Division, 3-4 overall.
Wood-Ridge opened the scoring as Isaiah Walker capped off a 3:30 opening drive with a ten-yard touchdown run The Blue Devils went up 7-0 after the extra point by freshman Kyle Reiter. The Blue Devils had moved the ball down the field behind the early strong running of Nick Marchitelli, including breaking off a 30-yard run to put the ball in the red zone.
After turning the ball over on downs on their opening possession, Wallington came up big on their second drive. On a fourth and one, quarterback Billy Ricci completed a short pass to Zaheir Mitchell for a 46-yard catch and run for a touchdown. The Panthers stayed on the field for the two point try, converting on an end-around pass from Mitchell to Abu Hussein to go up 8-7 in the first quarter.
The Panthers stopped Wood-Ridge to get back on the field for their third drive. Mitchell got into the end zone again on an eight yard pass from Ricci. Mitchell also ran it in for two points to go up 16-7 late in the first half.
Wood-Ridge’s first third quarter drive was marred by a brawl as tensions ran past the boiling point. Niko Giglio was tackled into Wood-Ridge bench, sparking a five-minute brawl on the Wood-Ridge sideline. Blue Devils running back Isaiah Walker was ejected after a sideline scuffle between both teams.
Three plays later, another fight broke out after Wallington had fumbled the ball and turned it over with around five minutes remaining in the third. This culminated in Bryan Sermeno’s ejection for leaving the Wallington bench to engage in a fight.
Wood-Ridge capitalized on good field position as sophomore quarterback Nino Iacovino threw a five-yard touchdown pass to Christian Chao to get within two points after the extra point late in the third.
The Blue Devils were able to get the ball back from the Panthers after a defensive stand. The Blue Devils fumbled while driving deep into Wallington territory with four minutes left in the game. Wood-Ridge forced a punt, and had a final scoring chance with two minutes remaining.
The Panthers were able to stop the Blue Devils on their last drive with back-to-back sacks on third and fourth down by Hussein, clinching the win.
NOTES: Wallington with the win, will finish in third place, and face Butler at home next week, before traveling to Hasbrouck Heights in two weeks. Wood-Ridge will host Becton Friday night and then play at North Arlington is two weeks.
(Ed Note: Wood-Ridge will play Glen Ridge on Friday evening. A revised playoff schedule was mailed to the media Sunday morning noting the change in schedules.)