MORRISTOWN, NJ – Following a homecoming heartbreaker for the Morristown Colonials—putting Morristown's dream of making it to the North 1, Group 5 section tournament on hold for another year—the Livingston High School football team jumped from No. 9 to No. 7 in the last week.
The Lancers—Morristown’s old Jersey Hills and Iron Hills-Iron Division rival for generations—came away with a 24-14 victory in the county seat on Saturday to improve the Lancers to 4-3 on the campaign.
As the No. 7 team in power points, Livingston’s playoff chances have increased tremendously since the start of the season, but the team needs to continue its winning streak to get there. The Lancers will now take on West Orange on Friday at 7 p.m.
“We need to win and from there, it looks pretty good that we’ll be in the playoffs,” said head coach Robert Breschard. “It’s a tight race. It’s just going to be a matter of what seed we fall to, but that’s our mind set: if we win, we’re in… if we don’t we’re out.”
Livingston started out 1-3 early in the season, when Breschard said the team was still developing. Defensively, the Lancers have been consistent all season, but Breschard said he is impressed with how far the offensive line has come.
“I’m really proud of how hard they work and how hard our offensive-line coaches work to make them better,” said Breschard. “Jack [Ernst] at quarterback is like night and day and Tyrell [Garnes] ran for 313 yards—and it looks like that was a school record.”
According to Breschard, the closest record that the athletic department has found to Garnes’ 313 yards was recorded in 1977 at 311 yards.
“The running game with him and Danny and Joe Cullen has really brought us to another level right now and that’s what’s really been showing in these games,” said Breschard.
Garnes had an impressive game throughout on Saturday against Morristown, gaining 51 yards on the game’s opening drive. This set up a Lancers touchdown when Ernst found Ryan Cardona on a backdoor screen pass for a 22-yard strike. Cardona’s extra point gave Livingston a 7-0 lead less than three minutes into the game.
Each team would exchange punts, and following a Morristown three-and-out on its second series, Livingston nearly struck again. Garnes broke free up the left sidelines for what appeared like a 40-yard touchdown run, but the speedy senior back fumbled into the end zone on the one-yard line for a touchback.
Midway through the second quarter, Livingston would get all the way down to the Morristown three-yard line, but Garnes’ was stuffed on 4th and goal by the Maroon and White’s Daniel Wagner to preserve the seven-point deficit.
With only 1:09 remaining in the half, Livingston would finish off a drive play, 55-yard march when Dan Weiss plunged in from a yard out to make it 14-0 Lancers at the half.
The Colonials came out a different club in the second half, starting with Jhamil King’s 40-yard kickoff return to the 50-yard line. From there, it would take nine plays for the home side to get on the board. The scoring play was a 22-yard strike from quarterback Jake Buchner to Matthew McNally on a fade route in the corner of the end zone.
Ryan Devaney’s PAT made cut the lead in half to 14-7 with 8:40 to play in the third.
After forcing a Livingston punt, Morristown advanced the ball all the way to the Lancers 21-yard line, largely on the legs of King and Buchner. But a sack by Livingston’s Nick Boffa on third down proved to be catastrophic, as Morristown would turn it over on downs.
Powered by Garnes—who gained 41 yards on the ensuing drive—Livingston went back ahead by two touchdowns when he cashed in from 15 yards away to make it 21-7 with 8:18 to play.
However, King would respond just seconds later when he rushed a double hand-off 55 yards to the house untouched. The Devaney kick made it 21-14 with 7:33 remaining on the clock.
Yet again turning to Garnes, Livingston would essentially ice the game with 3:01 remaining, when Cardona drilled a 31-yard field goal to put the winners ahead by two scores late.