ROXBURY, NJ - The Roxbury Gaels entered the football playoffs red hot off their win over Parsippany Hills, but they – and their drive for a state championship - were stopped dead in their tracks Friday by Wayne Hills.
It was a game that began badly for the Gaels and wonderfully for Wayne Hills, which showed its aggressiveness by scoring on the first play and eventually winning 35-14.
With the regular season over, the Gaels looked to be strong contenders with an 8-1 record coming into Friday’s playoff game. Wayne Hills also had success with a 7-2 record.
With the stage set and the Roxbury student section screaming and yelling in their ‘black-out’ theme, the big game on a brisk night began with Wayne Hills receiving first. After a touchback by Gaels senior Jack Clevenger, Wayne Hills junior running back Luca Grave ran the first play for an 80-yard touchdown and he was not even touched by a Roxbury defender. The long rushing play gave Wayne Hills the early advantage.
When Roxbury went on offense, the Gaels struggled to gain yards. Wayne Hills was just too physical up front to run the ball or to protect quarterback Grant Dixon on pass plays.
Roxbury needed someone to step up and make a play, and that is exactly what Clevenger did on defense as he picked-off Wayne Hills and sparked the Gaels offense. Clevenger would go on to cap of a drive after the pick by catching a pass from Dixon and pulling Roxbury closer with the scoreboard reading 14-7 Wayne Hills.
But as the game continued, Roxbury had trouble in stopping the run. Grave was continually able to hit his holes and gain yards and his hard running established the pass to the senior tight end Joey Kenny.
Dixon would score once more on the night with a rushing score on the fourth quarter, but it would not be enough for the Gaels to win this one. As the referees blew the final whistle the score read Wayne Hills, 35, Roxbury, 14. The 2015 season came to a close for Roxbury, a team that finished with a record of 8-2.
The Gaels will head back to work in the off-season in preparation for their 2016 campaign.