LIVINGSTON, NJ - It wasn't a happy Friday night for the Livingston Lancers, as they fell short in a devastating 32-0 loss to the Millburn Millers.
Livingston had 11 drives, 11 opportunities to put points on the board, but they were simply immune to the end zone. Kicker Joe Terzian also missed a 24-yard field goal attempt, his only attempt of the night to help the Lancers avoid a shutout.
In what many have said to be the Lancers only shot at a victory this season, as they now begin the toughest part of the schedule, Livingston looked simply outmatched by the Millers, failing to score after a blocked punt by Cooper Weisman and Willy Cardona.
The Lancers received the ball at the Millers 11 yard line. A 5-yard run and personal foul call later, they were at the one. One yard away from taking an early lead, but three straight runs gained a total of negative 7 yards. Terzian’s kick then sailed wide right.
After a scoreless first quarter, Milburn capitalized on a fumbled snap by sophomore quarterback Matt Gibbon to score their first touchdown of the night. On third and ten Miller quarterback Milo Freemen found receiver Steven Montouro for a touchdown giving them a 6-0 lead.
After a turnover on downs by the Lancers, Freemen led the Millers down the field once again before handing it off to running back Alex Shoen for the score giving the Millers a 13-0 cushion going into the half.
Although Livingston was only down by two scores heading into the locker room, everyone in the stands knew it should be more. If not for some undisciplined play by the Millers, which resulted in nearly 10 penalties, Millburn would most likely be leading by at least three scores, maybe more.
Millburn fixed this problem in the second half.
On the Lancers’ opening drive of the second half, running back Brett Birnbaum collapsed to the ground after an incomplete pass. The Lancers, who are already without starting running back Zach Wolkstein, quarterback Joey Fischer, and starting lineman Ryan Distler and Will Boni, this was the last thing they needed.
After Birnbaum limped to the sidelines, the Lancers failed to convert on third down and were forced to punt.
After a missed field goal by the Millers, the Lancers offense seemed to finally come alive. After a four-yard run by running back Jonny Schreiber, Gibbon connected on a 48-yard strike to Hunter Bushwell who got all the way inside Millers’ 40-yard line before being pushed out of bounds. That was the closest the Lancers would come to
the promised land for the rest of the game.
Two incomplete passes and a 4th down sack later, the Lancers turned the ball over on downs, sealing their fate.
Freemen then helped drove the Millers down the field busting out runs of 15, 12, and 7 yards in the process. After a holding penalty took the Millers out of the end zone, Freemen then responding by galloping for a 22-yard touchdown juking—and nearly breaking the ankles of defender Will Gonzales in the process.
After and a three and out by the Lancers, the Millers once again drove down the field this time it was Shoen who ran it in for the score giving Millburn a 26-0 lead and officially putting this game out of reach.
Offensive Coordinator Paul Cirlincione then decided to air it out with his young quarterback, but Gibbon got intercepted on his first pass of the drive by who else, but Milo Freemen, who already had over 100 yards rushing and two touchdowns as a running back, now has an interception on defense to go along with it.
Freemen then added one more highlight for his career game by bursting out a 59-yard touchdown run, his third of the day and giving the Millers a 32-0 victory over the injured and inexperienced Lancers.
After the game, Coach Cirlincione admitted that the Lancers would attempt tomodify their offensive scheme after failing to score a touchdown throughout the first two games of the season.
“We have to look at the guys we have and look at what they can do and can’t do and develop an offense around that,” said Cirlincione.
Livingston would not have had to reshape their entire offensive playbook if not for the devastating injuries suffered by starting quarterback Joey Fischer and running back Zack Wolkstein. Both seniors are now forced to watch from the bench and hope they can help mentor their replacements in Matt Gibbon and Jake Rosenbaum respectively.
Fischer especially seemed heartbroken seeing as how he was poised to start after waiting behind former Livingston quarterback Andrew Egner for two years. “Disappointing,” said Fischer before the game. “It just feels awful that I can’t
help my team win. I hate just sitting here watching them, I miss playing, I miss the feeling.”
Both Wolkstein and Fischer will not be returning to their starting offensive roles this season, Fischer may return and play with a cast as a cornerback on defense. The Lancers are going to have to regroup without them in the meantime, attempting to get their first victory this season over Columbia this coming Friday.