PATERSON, NJ - Bolstered by the return of starting quarterback Quatrell Huffin from a shoulder injury, the pride of Paterson took to their home turf and registered a victory over the visiting New Jersey Hawkeyes on Saturday. The dynamic signal caller for the Silk City Shark’s frustrated the Hawkeyes’ defense with both pin-point passing and elusive running. Paterson’s defense also stepped up to the plate, allowing only one score from scrimmage with the other visitor’s touchdown coming against special teams.
Despite the convincing win, the contest did not start well for the home team.
After returning the opening kickoff to their own 38-yard line, the Sharks offense took over with a 1st and ten. However, a run up the middle was stonewalled by the Hawkeyes’ defensive line and forced a fumble.
Recovered by New Jersey, the opponents quickly took advantage. A complete eight-yard pass was followed by an up-the-middle run for a first down. From the shotgun, a pass lofted into the left corner of the end zone spelled touchdown. A successful two-point conversion resulted in an 8-0 Hawkeyes’ lead.
The Sharks’ second offensive possession started on their own 40-yard line. An offsides penalty against New Jersey was offset by a sack of Huffin. Following the play, Paterson’s Terry Fraison lay motionless on the turf for several minutes. However, the former Eastside High School star was able to limp off to the sidelines accompanied by the warm applause of fans from both sides.
The Huffin-Dekyri Mimms aerial connection then clicked for a long pass completion to the visitor’s 10-yard line. The tandem would hook up numerous times throughout the evening, including for a pair of touchdowns. Huffin then found wide receiver Jamel McNeill all alone in the left corner of the end zone for a six-pointer. A successful two-point conversion knotted the score at 8-8.
On the Sharks’ ensuing kick, former Passaic Tech standout Ryan Rios delivered the first of two solo tackles on kick-off returns. A stop by 6’3”, 265 pound, defensive end David Smith, a sack by outside linebacker Syheem Farrar, and blanket pass coverage by Jaquese Hunter forced a punting scenario for the Hawkeyes.
On their next possession, the fierce fish were not discouraged by a delay of game penalty and an incomplete pass. Provided ample protection by offensive linemen Elijah McKenzie and Marvin Espana, Huffin, from the shotgun and his own 41-yard line, was able to spot Mims, all alone, 30 yards down field. The perfect spiral found its mark and the fleet receiver easily coasted into the end zone for the score. Paterson employed a successful flea-flicker for a two-point conversion and a 16-8 lead.
The Hawkeyes suffered more grief on their next offensive possession.
Following a re-kick due to an offsides call against the Sharks, the Hawkeyes started on their own 31-yard line. A tackle for a loss of five yards by Paterson’s Jaris Rogers set the table for an electrifying defensive play.
The Hawkeyes’ signal caller, from the shotgun, was immediately hit by McKenzie as soon as he received the hike. The ball popped out and Sharks’ linebacker Kinde McQueen alertly scooped up the loose pigskin and darted 26 yards to pay dirt. The subsequent extra point attempt failed, however the Sharks enjoyed a 22-8 lead.
On New Jersey’s following offensive possession, Shark’s defensive back Deon Davis stymied a long bomb pass attempt. A Hawkeye receiver gathered in a short sideline pass but was quickly tackled by Silk City’s defensive end John Burton which led to a New Jersey punt.
On the next Paterson drive, Huffin was flushed out of the pocket by a tremendous Hawkeye rush and flagged for intentional grounding. The Sharks were forced to punt and the New Jersey ball carrier was forced out of bounds on the return. A late hit by the Sharks on the play caused the Hawkeyes’ bench to clear. However, the temporary skirmish was quickly calmed by officials and play continued.
The misconduct penalty against the Sharks provided excellent field position for the Hawkeyes. A 15-yard pass attempt proved successful, and, despite a hard hit for a stop by Burton, New Jersey was able to advance to the Sharks’ 31-yard line. The scenario was emblematic of much of the second and third quarters. New Jersey was able to consistently operate in Paterson territory but was unable to break through into the red zone. The Hawkeyes managed to move to the Sharks’ nine-yard line but a McKenzie sack for a huge loss further served to muffle the New Jersey effort. The Silk City Sack Exchange continued with another quarterback tackle behind the line, this one by linebacker Edward McKenzie.
The Hawkeyes’ defense stiffened on the Sharks’ next offensive possession by sacking Huffin and almost intercepting a pass. New Jersey drove deep into Paterson territory but, again, was forced to backpedal. Led by jarring tackles by defensive linemen Justin Moore and Myles Lesane-Hunt, the Hawkeyes were driven back to nearly midfield.
Now at quarterback for the Sharks, Rahon Ison scrambled right and fired to Mimms, who tightroped down the right sideline, for a 23-yard completion. However, the first half horn sounded with the score: Sharks 22--Hawkeyes-8.
Paterson opted for an onside kick attempt to open the second half but New Jersey recovered the ball. The Hawkeyes advanced to the Paterson 22 following several successful plays and a penalty against the Sharks. A fumble in the New Jersey backfield was then scooped up by defensive end Jaqueise Enzor who sprinted 85 yards for an apparent touchdown. However, the play was called back due to a Pateron holding infraction. After a New Jersey hike was a dud and lost four yards, Silk City defensive back Andre Robinson, while covering a New Jersey receiver, leaped high in the air, deep in the left corner of the end zone, for a brilliant interception and 25-yard return.
The New Jersey defense was able to back the Sharks up against the goal line, forcing a punt from deep in the endzone. The pop-fly kick only traveled 15 yards but a penalty gave the Sharks some breathing room. However, the second punt was shanked left. The ten-yard boot was picked up by New Jersey and returned for a short touchdown run. The two-point attempt failed but the Hawkeyes had pulled within eight points, 22-14.
Despite their narrow lead, the Sharks were quickly able to reassert command. On the ensuing offensive possession, Huffin again found Mims near the Hawkeyes’ goal line who was able to ward off his lone defender and gather in the long bomb for another scintillating score. The two-point attempt was good and concluded the scoring for the evening to secure the final 30-14 tally.
The Sharks were able to employ a pass-prevent defense to conclude the contest aided by picks from defensive backs Keiswan Thomas and Denzel Mouzone.
The Sharks travel to play against the New York Predators for their next game on October 17.
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