HOBOKEN, NJ – Four second-half turnovers were too much to overcome for the New Providence football team on Friday night. For the second straight year, the Pioneers failed to get past the semifinal round of the North 2, Group 1 playoffs, losing to Hoboken, 40-23, at John F. Kennedy Stadium.
“That’s what happens when you get to the semifinals for football,” New Providence head coach Joe Carollo said on playing the section’s top team. “We’re very pleased to be here in the semifinals. We’re just going to keep working. Eventually, we’re going to turn the corner and get to the state finals.”
After a scoreless first quarter, Hoboken took a 13-0 lead in the second after Donte Bass and Marquis Roberts scored on back-to-back drives for the Red Wings.
Trailing, 13-3, after halftime, New Providence running back Joe Ciarrocca scored a touchdown on the first possession of the second half to pull the Pioneers within four.
However, it was a downward spiral from there, as the Pioneers turned the ball over on four of their next five drives.
After a special teams penalty pinned New Providence deep in their zone, quarterback Jack Harvey threw the first of two interceptions starting the negative trend.
Hoboken responded three plays later when Joshua Mercado ran for a 7-yard score to extend the Red Wings lead to 20-9.
Carollo thought the game could have turned out differently had the Pioneers scored on the drive.
“It’s a very unfortunate thing,” Carollo said. “We have to play our best ball in big games and we didn’t. We turned the ball over too much and didn’t make the plays we needed to.”
Two more interceptions, split between Harvey and Bryan Sherman, as well as a lost fumble, all resulted in Hoboken touchdowns.
Pioneer running backs Ciarrocca and CJ Kleisch fought back with scores of their own in the fourth quarter, while Ibn Nash ran for a team-high 101 yards, but the New Providence offense did not compare well to Hoboken's.
The Pioneer defense struggled with the Red Wings rushing trio of Bass, Mercado and Roberts. The three combined for 301 yards on 52 carries, scoring all 40 points.
“We needed to play our best game tonight and we just didn’t play our best game,” Carollo said. “That’s what it comes down to. We turned the ball over too much. We didn’t stop the run the way we need to.”
While New Providence was eliminated from the state tournament, the Pioneers have a quick turnaround this week, as they face rival Gov. Livingston in their annual Thanksgiving Day battle. This year’s matchup will kick off at 11 a.m. at Gov. Livingston High School.