NEWTON, NJ—The Newton High School football team won 28-27 against Glen Rock on Friday on Braves turf. Despite frigid temperatures, Newton’s stands were full of students and fans ready to cheer on the Braves, as they took the quarterfinal round of the NJSIAA North 2 Group 2 tournament.
Glen Rock came out in the first quarter and scored two touchdowns, but Newton came back in the second and scored two touchdowns as well.
Jack Young, quarterback for the Braves ran in the first two touchdowns; a three-yard run and a seven-yard run.
With the score tied, the teams went into halftime. Once the third quarter started, Aaron Fantasia snagged a 12-yard pass from Young score another six, moving the Braves ahead.
“Going into the game, we knew they were a good team,” Fantasia said after the game. “We knew it was going to be a close game, a good match up. We fell behind early, 14-0, but we battled back, and we knew that stop at the end of the first half was huge. We just kept fighting in the second half and blocked the kick at the end.
“I was really proud of the character that our team showed, starting off 14-0 to battle back, keep their heads up and really dig themselves out of a hole. The players, they’re the ones who make the plays, you know.”
Glen Rock answered Newton’s call and scored another touchdown, once again tying the score at 21 all. Young went to Peyton Nolan in the air for another TD, to take the lead 28-21.
That would not be the end as Glen Rock came back to score another touchdown. The kick was blocked holding the score to 28-27 with two minutes left on the clock.
Young put up 25 yards in the air and had 12 carries for another 80 yards. Fantasia grabbed two Young passes for a total of 25 yards and rushed a total of 82 yards.
Young connected with Nolan for one touchdown and rushed a total of 134 yards throughout the game.
“We came in the game knowing it was going to be a tough game, you know first game in states, nobody thought we were going to be here, but we pulled through for the end of the season,” Young said. “Our motto really was every week go 1-0 and that’s what we’ve been saying all week during practice. After the first quarter, we were like wow we need to step it up and we went into half and had a great stop, and we came out of half just with more energy, and we pulled through at the end.”
On the defensive line, Shane Nannery had 10 tackles, Young had six, Fantasia had five, Ryan Pappas had four and Takeo Sibblies had two.
After the game Sibblies said Newton “had a game plan from the start, we just had to pull through like everyone knew we would. As the underdogs in the beginning of the season, 0-2, people doubted us, coming through at the end, it was a close game, but we knew we would come out on top because the effort and heart were there."
“We were fighting for a home playoff game, and we got it, so we just came into this game with so much excitement, and we were ready to play,” Pappas said. “We did it, we came out on top and I couldn’t be happier.”
The fourth seed Braves will move into the semifinal round, facing top seed Verona on the road.
“We were kind of holding our breath at the end.” Newton’s head coach Matt Parzero said in an interview after the game. “We weren’t sure if they were going to go for two, but we still had two minutes left in case they did. That certainly was exciting there and then picking up the one first down that we needed.
“You could see the momentum switch, they stopped them right before halftime at the goal line, and we had the momentum. Glen Rock never quit and battled, and this is the playoffs, so they’re going to fight right to the very end, and they did. It was just a great game.”
Verona beat eight-seeded Kinnelon 50-14 on Friday. The semi-final match-up will take place on Friday, November 15 with a 7 p.m. kick-off.