MILLBURN, NJ - Coming off a 1-9 season a year ago, the Millburn football team spent the better part of three quarters Saturday looking like anything but a one-win outfit.
But Livingston seized the momentum with three touchdowns in a span of less than four minutes bridging the third and fourth quarters and went on to a 27-12 victory.
Millburn maintained a lead until the final 1:09 of the first half, when Tyrell Garnes ran 1 yard for a touchdown and Ryan Cardona kicked the extra point to cap a nine-play, 80-yard drive to give Livingston (1-1) a 7-6 lead going into halftime.
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The Millers made their first possession of the 2017 season a memorable one, taking over in the first quarter after a punt on their own 35-yard line and moving 65 yards in seven plays to score on a 3-yard TD run by Tom Quinn with 5:23 left. The series was highlighted by quarterback Peter Serruto's 55-yard completion down the right sideline to Ben Pampush to the Livingston 5-yard line.
Serruto completed nine of 13 passes for 104 yards in the opening half, then opened the third quarter with a 46-yard completion on a go route to Tanner Partoll down the left sideline to the Lancer 27-yard line on Millburn's first play from scrimmage. But consecutive procedure penalties on that series knocked the Millers out of field-goal range, and they didn't achieve another first down until late in the fourth quarter.
By that time, Livingston had grabbed control of the contest, with junior QB Jack Ernst throwing touchdown passes of 16 and 18 yards in the final 2:20 of the third quarter to give the Lancers a 21-6 lead. As time was expiring in the third quarter, with the ball at the Millburn 18, Ernst dropped back on first down, eluded the Millburn pass rush and completed a pass to Joe Cullen at the 7-yard line. Cullen found himself surrounded by Millers, but somehow juked and wriggled his way past all three and made his way into the end zone as Livingston took a 21-6 lead.
Ernst (14-for-21, 170 passing yards) had connected with Marco Fusari on a 16-yard TD pass over the middle earlier in the third quarter, with Fusari impressively fighting his way the last couple of yards across the goal line.
After Millburn fumbled the ball on its next snap, Livingston took just two plays to score again on Daniel Weiss' 21-yard TD run down the left sideline after breaking off tackle.
Serruto scored on a 12-yard run late in the game for Millburn to complete the scoring.