EAST ORANGE, NJ - The sports adage of the best offense is a good defense proved to be true in the 22nd Paul Robeson All-Star Classic as the East All-Stars defeated the West, 28-8, on Tuesday.
Only two offensive touchdowns were scored in the game.
Linebacker Kevin Robinson of Montclair had two interceptions in the game's last five minutes to secure the East’s second consecutive and 19th overall victory in the Robeson Classic. The first was pick-six, which Robinson ran 46-yards to the end zone to put his team up, 19-8.
“I have a competitive mentality, so I try to win everything I partake in,” Robinson said postgame. “I’m just happy I got to play with the people I did. I met a lot of great people.”
Robinson was named as the East’s “Defensive Player of the Game.”
But the East’s defense wasn’t finished there. Just minutes later, with the West trying to get within striking distance, linebacker Joshua Frederick of Shabazz made an interception of his own, which he ran 33-yards to the end zone to score the game’s final touchdown.
It was the East defense’s third interception in a four-minute window.
Postgame, the East’s head coach, Jim Matsakis of West Orange said his defense came up big in the fourth, but that it was not a surprise to see them do so.
“It was a matter of time just because of the kids we put on defense,” he said. “Having the kids from Montclair, PTC, winning programs; we never worried about anything. We knew out team’s speed would be the difference. My hat’s off to them. Those guys were lights out.”
The East’s offense scored two touchdowns of their own, as the East Orange duo of quarterback Devante Williams and wide receiver Tyraiq Beals proved to be as lethal as they were during the season.
At the nine minute mark of the fourth quarter, the pair gave their team the go ahead score as Williams found Beals and completed a six-yard touchdown pass and put their team up, 13-8.
It was the pairs’ last time representing their school on their home field. The duo was spectacular during the regular season as they combined for 16 touchdowns and over 80 completions for more that 1,200 yards. They continued their dominance months later in Tuesday’s game.
“It was a blessing, I kind of planned it though,” Williams said with a laugh. “I wasn’t doing so good in practice. I don’t practice great all the time, but the game shows I’m DI.”
Williams, who was named as the East’s “Offensive Player of the Game,” said that the team had to regroup after entering the second half trailing, 8-0.
“We had a talk. [Frederick] from Shabazz gave us a little speech. He wasn’t trying to go home losing,” Williams said.
The East’s first touchdown came less than four minutes into the third quarter as running back John Mannion of James Caldwell rushed two yards to score get his team on the scoreboard.
Bloomfield’s Nick Restaino converted on the extra point attempt to bring the East within a single point, down, 8-7, with plenty of time left in the game.
The West’s lone score of the game came off a miscommunication by the East’s offense as Whippany Park’s defensive back Mike Poulter picked up a misguided back pass and ran the ball 14 yards to the end zone to open up the game’s scoring.
To read about the players from West Essex, James Caldwell, Livingston and West Orange that were chosen to play in the game, click HERE.
To see more photos from the game, click HERE.