MORRISTOWN, NJ – All season long, close losses have hampered the Morristown football team’s effort to make the North 1, Group 5 section tournament.
Unfortunately for the Colonials, another heartbreaker will overwhelmingly likely put that dream on hold for another year.
Livingston—Morristown’s old Jersey Hills and Iron Hills-Iron Division rival for generations—came away with a 24-14 victory on Homecoming Day in the county seat to drop the Colonials to 2-5 on the campaign. With seven teams in the section guaranteed to be .500 or above, Morristown’s playoff chances are close to being officially dashed.
“This one is going to sting for awhile,” Morristown coach John Power said. “Livingston is a very good, physical football team, but we take no solace in these tight losses.”
Livingston (4-3) running back Tyrell Garnes was magnificent in this one, running for an eye-popping 268 yards on 30 carries and a touchdown. Garnes gained 51 yards on the game’s opening drive, and that set up a Lancers touchdown when quarterback Jack 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 their 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 period, Livingston would get all the way down to the Morristown 3-yard line, but Garnes’ was stuffed on 4th and goal by the Maroon & White’s Daniel Wagner to preserve the seven-point deficit.
But with just 1:09 remaining in the half, Livingston would finish off an 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.
“We need to learn how to finish drives and to finish games,” Power said. “We’re doing a lot of things well, but that next step is the biggest one to take.”
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.
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