PATERSON, NJ - On an evening that was perfect for fall football, the Silk City Sharks edged the visiting Philadelphia Marauders in a contest marked by strong defense by both squads. Paterson managed to notch a pair of touchdowns to prevail by a score of 12-6 in the fiercely competitive contest on Saturday, October 19.
Following Charity Fischer’s beautiful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner the Mighty Fish received the opening kickoff and began with good field position from their own 41-yard line. Able to gain yardage on the ground, the Sharks traversed deep into Marauder territory.
Quarterback David Huffin, on a keeper, was able to knife in for the score. The 2-point conversion attempt failed yet the Sharks enjoyed an early 6-0 lead.
The ensuing kickoff provided Philadelphia with excellent field position. However, the Sharks were more than up to the task defensively and forced a punt.
Paterson’s second offensive series began with a 1st and ten on their own 49-yard line. Running back Rockee Santiago took the handoff and bolted to the Marauder 28 for a big gain. The first quarter horn sounded with the Sharks threatening to score. The promising drive, however, was stalled due to an ineligible man penalty. From the shotgun, a Huffin long bomb was thrown out of bounds. The result was a fourth down and a 48-yard field goal attempt, which was long enough, but drifted right.
Philadelphia’s next turn on offense started much the same as Paterson’s 6-0 220 pound linebacker Akinde McQueen stopped a running attempt, cold, for no yardage. Another stonewall hit and tackle was turned in by defensive tackle Jason Patterson. However, on 3rd and nine from their own 36, the Marauders’ quarterback handled the hike, dipped forward toward the line of scrimmage, escaped left, and turned the corner, untouched, to race 64 yards to pay dirt. Patterson’s stop of the 2-point conversion run attempt left the score tied at 6-6.
Silk City’s Xavier Harris, who turned in an all-around excellent game, both running the ball and returning kicks, carried the ensuing kick-off for 30 yards. On 1st and 10, Huffin attempted a pass downfield only to have the ball batted away and nearly intercepted. Following a substantial gain by Harris, wide receiver Dekyri Mims snagged a tight Huffin spiral by the right sideline for a first down. Harris then again got the call, and jetted up the middle while shifting from left to right to the Marauders’ 28. A no-huddle play resulted in an incomplete pass. Huffin then managed to elude a furious Philadelphia rush by back peddling only to see his pass, again, bounce off a defender and this time fall into the hands of another Marauder for a pick.
With possession of the pigskin near mid-field, Philadelphia’s first running attempt was rudely greeted by McQueen for no gain. A Marauder pass attempt also proved dismal due to blanket coverage by Sharks’ defensive secondary members Huffin, Marqueise Marrerro, and Dijon Outterbridge. However, the visitors from the City of Brotherly Shove were able to advance to the Sharks’ 19-yard line. On 4th and nine, an illegal procedure call tacked off five yards. The Marauder’s signal caller was then chased out of the pocket but managed to cruise through traffic, to Paterson’s 2-yard line. Poised to score, Philadelphia was frustrated by a penalty flag, again for illegal procedure.
The subsequent pass play was countered by a tidal wave Shark’s rush which saw the Philadelphia quarterback race hurriedly backwards. After the dust had settled, the result was a huge loss. The next play was a pass attempt which the Sharks intercepted in the middle as the defender stepped in front of the receiver at the very last moment. The clutch defensive stand proved to be the key exchange of the evening for the hometown heroes.
With the ball perilously positioned at their own one-yard line, Huffin knifed through center and right guard for ten yards to provide breathing room. Soon thereafter, time expired in the first half.
Stellar defense by both teams was featured in the third quarter as a number of punts were traded. The Marauders threatened to score in the fourth frame but a pass was almost picked off by Huffin.
With nine minutes left on the game clock, Huffin went back to pass and fired a bullet pass to Mimms who had crossed the goal line. The beautiful 25-yard spiral found its target as the Paterson wide-out had managed to slip between a pair of defenders. The extra-point kick sailed left, leaving the Fish with 12-6 advantage.
The Marauders ensuing offensive possession featured a pass attempt from the shotgun on virtually every play. The Sharks’ defensive line responded by harassing the Philadelphia quarterback each and every time. Eventually, an interception by Sharks’ defensive back Shaon Stephenson proved to be the nail in the coffin for the visitors.
The final few minutes of the contest were highlighted by several lengthy conferences by game officials about the time clock. The final horn concluded with the Sharks escaping to swim another day with the six-point victory.
Former players that were honored included:
* Mike Harris (William Paterson College; North Jersey Steelers; NJ Raiders; NJ Giants; CEO/Co Founder - Garden State Football League; VP Silk City Sharks)
* Clavon Byrd (NJ Rams; Kennedy HS All-State; Ramapo College Hall of Fame)
* Charlie Patterson (1995 AFA National Champion NJ Wolverines)
* Duke McQueen (1995 AFA National Champion NJ Wolverines)
* Vernell "PeeWee" Williams (NJ Raiders; 1995 AFA National Champion NJ Wolverines)
* Jay Hawes (Passaic HS All-State; Passaic HS State Champion; Brooklyn Mariners 1991 AFA National Champion; NJ Colts; NJ Giants; 1995 AFA National Champion NJ Wolverines; 1993 AFA national first team - QB)
* Leroy McQueen (Ramapo College; North Jersey Steelers; NJ Raiders; President - 1995 AFA National NJ Wolverines)
* Mark Fischer (William Paterson College/Winston Salem State; Garden State Football League Co-Founder; NJ Raiders; CEO 1995 AFA National Champion NJ Wolverines; CEO Silk City Sharks)
* Rocky Rutherford (NJ Raiders; Newburgh (NY) Raiders)
* Norman Mann (Head Coach - Newburgh Raiders, NJ Cougars; Harlem Gators; NJ Hawkeyes)
At the conclusion of the game, Hawes expressed gratitude for being able to play for two semi-pro championship teams, and proudly displayed two rings to prove it. Hawes starred at Southern Connecticut University and started all four years in college after playing his high school ball for Passaic.
The Sharks hope to continue their winning ways and build on their undefeated 7-0 record in the Independent Football League by traveling to play the Philly Steelers on Sunday, October 27. They return home to Baurle Field for their final regular season contest against the undefeated Philly-U Cardinals on Saturday, November 2, at 6:00 p.m.
Know a story we should share with readers? Email editor Steve Lenox and tell him about it.