PATERSON, NJ - In a game that featured numerous momentum shifts, Eastside High School overcame a 14-0 deficit to rally and defeat the visiting Hornets from Passaic Valley by a score of 20-14. The win added to the already joyous occasion of the home team’s annual Homecoming celebration.
The squads were evenly matched throughout the first quarter with the Hornets gaining only a 6-0 advantage. Late in the frame, the Ghosts’ defense was bolstered by the tackling of linebacker Jorge Lopez. With the visitors threatening to score, junior cornerback Isaiah Colon broke up a pass but on the next play the Hornets’ quarterback scooted up-field for a first down providing a 1st and ten at the Ghosts’ ten yard line.
However, due to both excellent run and pass defense the ball was soon turned over.
Eastside’s ensuing possession, from deep inside their own territory, was muted by several jarring tackles at the line of scrimmage by the Hornets, forcing a punt. The kick only reached the Ghosts’ 29-yard line providing another golden scoring opportunity for the Hornets. However, an ankle tackle by defensive end Fraylin Payano stopped one run attempt. A subsequent completed screen pass was halted by sophomore Ashmir Smith for a loss of yardage.
In another series Passaic Valley again punted giving the Ghosts the ball near mid-field with 6:08 left in the half. A direct hike to sophomore Ashin Jacobs garnered a first down on the ground. acobs again carried right, gaining another five chunks of real estate. Running back Darren Porter knifed between center and right guard for more yardage. However, an incomplete pass and delay of game penalty against the Ghosts derailed the promising drive. The resulting punt saw the Hornets take over on Eastside’s 18-yard line.
A spectacular Passaic Valley long bomb down the right sideline to Brandon Timothy traveled to the Ghosts’ 37-yard line. The senior wide receiver managed to slip behind his defender and make a diving, one-handed catch. Another successful aerial carried to the 20. Despite a stop on a running play by Ghosts’ senior linebacker Samir Chapman, the Hornets’ Vincent Colletti was able to carry up the middle for a touchdown. The extra point was good resulting in the score: Passaic Valley 14-Eastside-0.
With time running out in the second half, Eastside Head Coach James Magazine turned to Smith. The fleet footed running back took a handoff, negotiated heavy traffic, and veered right for a huge gain into Hornets’ territory. A pin-point pass by Ghosts’ quarterback Wymeir Reed found its mark over the middle to the visitor’s 24 yard line. Another aerial, with six ticks left on the clock, was both complete and crossed the goal line for a score. The conversion attempt came up short and the halftime buzzer sounded with the Ghosts pulling within eight points, 14-6.
The second half saw the Ghosts rally to secure a memorable victory.
After receiving the kickoff, Ghosts’ senior quarterback Michael Jackson III lofted a long, rainbow pass down the right sideline for which junior Wymeir Reed patiently turned, waited, and made a basket catch for the completion. Smith then turned the right corner for a first down run. Employing a no-huddle offense, a complete pass to the right flat to Jacobs garnered another first down. Faced with a 4th down, the Ghosts were aided by an encroachment call against the Hornets.
Smith then exploded up the middle for a huge gain to the Passaic Valley one-yard line. However, the Hornets yielded grudgingly as several failed running attempts and an Eastside penalty stalled the endeavor.
Not to be discouraged, the Ghosts’ defense stiffened, forcing a punt from PV from their own end zone. A tackle for a safety followed, giving Eastside not only two points but the ball on the following kickoff.
Given an excellent scoring opportunity, the Ghosts again marched to the one-yard line. With 2:26 left in the third quarter and a 4th and goal at the one, both teams traded timeouts, elevating the suspense. Finally, a successful run off tackle provided a touchdown for the home team, evening the score at 14.
The Ghosts defense then stepped up to the plate to provide a number of quarterback sacks, allowing for the sensational passing from Jackson to lead the offense back downfield. A successful long bomb down the right sideline eventually led to a 3rd down on the Hornets’ 12-yard line.
Jackson fired from shotgun to Jacobs who had split right but crossed across the middle. Despite being sandwiched between two defenders, the sophomore wide receiver managed to snag the bullet for a score. The clutch play resulted in Eastside enjoying their first lead of the game, 20-14, with nine minutes left to play.
After receiving the kickoff, the Hornets served notice that they were not ready to quit. A sustained drive quickly moved the ball to the Eastside 36. However, a jarring tackle by Porter on a blitz lost five yards. The Hornets’ quarterback then rolled right and looked down field. Firing on the run, the ball was intercepted by Smith near the right sideline. Another Passaic Valley offensive possession proved fruitless as the Ghosts were able to run out the clock and hang on for the win to up their season record to 4-3.
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