MILLBURN, NJ - This weekend, the Millburn Millers Varsity football team strapped on their pads for their season opener against the Livingston Lancers. The annual football game, which took place this weekend, resulted in a very different conclusion than last year’s Millburn trouncing of Livingston. It was coach Patrick Leonardis second time seeing the Lancers. In his first year, Leonardis lead his Miller squad to a 32-0 defeat on Livingston’s home turf. This year, though, in a very different outcome, the Lancers beat their Super Essex Conference enemy 21 to 14. This result is consistent with the Lancer trend of beating Millburn, which had been the case for the past four years, with the exception of last year.
Millburn got on the scoreboard early when junior quarterback, Jared Harris threw a touchdown pass to senior wide receiver, Gabe Greenberg in first quarter of the game to give the Millers a seven point edge. The Miller drive started when Millburn’s Evan Steinfeld recovered a fumble to put the Millers in good field position for a score.
In the first half, there was an extended stoppage in play when Livingston’s guard and defensive tackle, Ryan Distler went down with an undisclosed injury. In a show of true sportsmanship, both Millburn and Livingston players and coaches assisted Distler until medical help arrived. There is no further information on the injury thus far.
With 3:57 left in the second quarter, Millburn’s second string quarterback Zack Weinstein was brought into the game after starting quarterback, Jared Harris’ helmet came off in the preceding play forcing him to sit out a snap. On the snap, quarterback, Zack Weinstein fumbled the snap and the Lancers recovered. Livingston took advantage of this Miller misfortune just prior to the end of the first half. With 20.2 seconds left in the second quarter, Livingston’s Mark Silvestre caught a pristine, twenty-five yard pass by quarterback Matt Gibbon, which tied up the game 7 to 7 going into halftime. Silvestre had a big day throwing 41 yards on two receptions. The Lancers tried to push their luck after their seven point gain by going for an onside kick, but Millburn recovered the onside kick with 16.9 seconds in the second quarter and was not caught off guard. The Millers were unable to score off of this opportunity, but the kick recovery gave them optimism going into the locker room at half time.
The Livingston Lancers took the lead for the first time in the game with 1:37 left in the third quarter when running back, Brandon Cohen ran it 20 yards into the end zone to give Livingston a 14 to 7 lead. Cohen ran the ball very well for the Lancers and had 102 yards on 12 attempts along with his third quarter score. On the following kickoff, Millburn’s Gabe Greenberg returned the kick to the Millburn 47 yard line. Despite this fantastic return, once again Millburn was unable to convert on the ensuing drive.
Once the fourth quarter came around, Livingston made a quick effort to extend their lead. Number 24, Johnny Schriber ran in for the score to give Livingston 21 to 7 lead with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter.
The tide turned in Millburn’s favor with 6:21 left in the fourth quarter when Jake Pickard, the Miller’s punter bounced a punt off of a Livingston player, which allowed Millburn to jump on the ball and recover possession with great field positioning. On the succeeding play, Millburn’s Evan Steinfeld caught a pass and ran it into the end zone to make the score 21 to 14, with 6:13 left in the game.
The Millers were trying to make a comeback and had a glimmer of hope until just over a minute left in the game when junior quarterback; Jared Harris threw an interception which helped to seal the Lancer victory.
The Livingston defense had a very impactful game. Not only did they hold the Millers to only two scores, but they achieved a total of 3 turnovers. Brandon Cohen had an interception along with 7 tackles. Johnny Schriber had 12 tackles, Zach Marini had a sack, and both Llewe Rocha and Ryan Distler recovered fumbles for Livingston.
Livingston quarterback Matt Gibbon had a fantastic performance Saturday afternoon. Gibbon found 7 receivers on 12 attempts and threw for 90 yards to help the Lancers edge out Millburn. Gibbon had both an interception and a touchdown during the game.
With the victory, the Lancers move to 1-1 on the year, while the Millers open up the season 0-1.The Millburn Millers look to obtain a better result next week when they face off against West Side at home on September 27th at 7:30 pm. The Lancers look to continue their hot streak at home next Saturday night versus Columbia High School. This victory was particularly welcome for Livingston after last week’s 54 to 7 defeat to Lincoln High School in the Lancers home opener.