SOMERVILLE, NJ - In America, football doesn’t stop for anything, especially not for bad weather. So as storms raged through Somerset County and other areas of New Jersey Friday night, high school football teams took their fields and gritted through it.
When North Plainfield Canucks met Somerville High School on the Pioneers’ home field, the nonstop rain and wind was just one more thing to overcome. Both of the Mid-State 38 - Raritan teams badly wanted a win. Both teams were looking for their first win of the season. More than that, Somerville was looking for its first win since October of 2012. Their hunger for victory was very evident in their play. It was a hard-nosed, back-and-forth affair that was so competitive that it couldn’t be decided in just four quarters. At the end of the night it was the Pioneers that raised their helmets in victory. In front of a small but passionate home crowd, Somerville defeated North Plainfield 26-20 in overtime, giving them their first win of the season and their first win since 2012.
The game started off slowly for both teams, and the weather seemed to be something of a cause of that. The rain and wind kept the ball on the ground for most of the time for both teams. The first three possessions were mostly running plays and they all resulted in turnover on downs. It was a big passing play though, that drew first blood for the Pioneers. Somerville receiver Chris Ciempola caught a long bomb from QB Michael Tarver,that ended up giving Somerville a 6-0 lead.
Both teams primarily relied on their running; North Plainfield’s Ceisean Tucker ran for two touchdowns, one of which went for 53 yards. Jeremiah Lynch ran a 60-yard TD for the Pioneers. A 30- yard run TD from Kreayshawn Newton evened up the game 20-20 for Somerville in the 4th quarter. The running didn’t come easy though, as both teams dealt with fumbling throughout the game
Somerville was poised to score and put away the game in the waning seconds of the 4th quarter, but a sack from the Canuck defense killed that chance and sent the game to overtime. When the Pioneers got the ball, their running game took over and they eventually got a score thanks to a short run from Newton. The Canucks looked to keep themselves alive when they got the ball, but a pass that went over the receiver's head on 4th down ended their drive and the game. And with that, the Pioneers snapped a 25 game losing streak.
“Our team fought tooth and nail, both ways” said Somerville coach Jeff Vanderbeek. “We’re so proud of the kids.”