LIVINGSTON, NJ—There was a ton at stake Friday night in Livingston. Both the Knights and Lancers knew at the conclusion of the game that one of the two teams would hold the Super Essex Conference Liberty title high and solidify a playoff berth.
West Essex came fully prepared and dominated the Lancers on their home turf 34-7.
This was Livingston’s second consecutive loss. While the Knights secured the conference and a playoff berth their counterpart, the Lancers—who sat at 6-0 two weeks ago—need help from other North 1, Group 4 opponents if they hope to clinch a playoff berth of their own.
In order for that to happen, the Lancers will need to shore up their defense. Livingston allowed 418 total yards and West Essex’s running back, Stephen O’Neil, could not be stopped as he had 13 carries for 169 yards and three touchdowns.
Based off each team’s first drive, most thought it would be a high scoring affair.
On the third play from scrimmage for the Knights, O’Neil found a hole and took it to the house on a 71-yard run.
Livingston and senior quarterback Andrew Egner immediately responded with a score of their own. Egner found junior back Zach Wolkstein for 65 yards.
“After our first score, we were extremely confident,” Wolkstein said. “We knew they were going to run the ball.”
The Lancers did a great job of containing the Knights in the first half, only allowing 103 yards.
West Essex matched Livingston on the defensive side of the ball only allowing 88 total yards in the first half and three first downs.
The Knights made the proper halftime adjustments and broke out for a 20-point third quarter.
On West Essex’s first score of the second half, O’Neil leaked out of the backfield, uncovered, and Paul Haramis found him for a 40-yard touchdown.
The West Essex defense showed no letdown, as they did not allow Livingston to get a first down in the third quarter and everyone knows defense leads to offense.
On the next drive, Haramis found another wide-open receiver. This time, Tom Filipow caught a 64-yard pass opening the game up and the Knights led 27-7 as the kicked failed.
The final score was put in by the player of the night, O’Neil. He broke three tackles and bounced off a defender before running it in from 33-yards out.
“All there is to do now is prepare for Montclair,” Wolkstein continued. “We have been prepared the past two weeks, it has just been a lack of execution, but we’ll get it right.”