WAYNE, NJ - Separated by one game in the standings, Hornets faced off against Wayne Hills to remain alive in the NJSFC Freedom White Division. However Wayne Hills, a top ten team in the state proved to be too much and Passaic Valley fell 31-6.
On the very first drive of the game, Passaic Valley had two rushes for a combined loss of six yards. Rather than attempting a third and long play, the Hornets decided to punt the ball a down early and set Wayne Hills up on their own 30-yard line.
“I’m not going to punt to those guys,” said Passaic Valley Head Coach Chet Parlavecchio referring to Wayne Hills’ two punt returners. “We split the field on both of them and I would do it again in a minute. We’re not a third and long team.”
Despite forcing Wayne Hills to drive 70 yards down the field, the Patriots responded easily with two rushes for 23 yards by Luca Grave that was quickly followed by a 47-yard touchdown pass from Brendan DeVera to Evidence Njoku to give the Patriots a 7-0 lead with 9:12 to go in the first quarter.
“We play very sound,” said DeVera. “We don’t get bottled up by a lot of things. We stay focused and get the job done".
Later in the first quarter, Passaic Valley went on a roller coaster. It started out with a muffed punt near their own end zone that turned into a touchback, followed by a 60-yard pass that set the Hornets up in the red zone. However, that drive ended with a fumble that was recovered by Wayne Hills.
At the time, the Hornets survived that missed opportunity with Wayne Hill’s next drive ending with a missed field goal. But after getting the ball back again, Passaic Valley missed a fourth and 5 opportunity from Wayne Hill’s 15-yard line and turned the ball over on downs.
Passaic Valley was not spared twice and paid for their turnover this time as Wayne Hill’s next drive ended with a 61-yard touchdown pass from DeVara to Tyler Hayek.
“You can’t do that with a top 10 team,” noted Parlavecchio. “When you have your opportunities, you have to make them count.”
Seconds before the end of the first half, Wayne Hills made 32-yard yard field goal to give them a 17-0 halftime lead. But, that was not nearly the last time the Patriots attacked.
To erase any doubt in the outcome, DeVera added two more touchdown passes to his impressive performance. In the third quarter, he had a 7-yard touchdown pass to Njoku and then had a 27-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to Hunter Hayek.
Early in the fourth quarter, Passaic Valley at least prevented a shut out with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Steve Luisa to Jake Abdi. Unfortunately, that was the only time the Hornets stung Wayne Hills back and it was not enough to overcome a their deficit.
“I’m very proud of how our kids played today,” noted Parlavechhio. “We’ve come a long way and we are building a program. They (Wayne Hills) are supposed to be all that.”
Wayne Hills lived up to their top 10 ranking in the state with the blowout win and offensive show. DeVera had 15 passes for 238 yards and four touchdown passes. Luca Grave had 17 rushes for 160 yards, Njoku had four receptions for 70 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns, and Tyler Hayek had eight receptions for 131 receiving yards and a receiving touchdown.
“Our receiving core is awesome,” added DeVera. “There are a bunch of Division 1 receivers out there and I love throwing to them. Anytime I throw to them I know they are going to make a play and get big yards out of it.”
After getting a show from a top 10 team in the state, the schedule does not get any easier for Passaic Valley as they go on the road to face undefeated Irvington next Friday at 7 pm.