SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ -- A new head coach, a renovated field, and the promise of a new season brought energy to the Scotch Plains-Fanwood football field that had been missing in recent seasons. Junior running back Shawn Martin gained 185 yards on the ground, including touchdown runs of 50 yards and 60 yards and was an important weapon for the Raiders.
Thanks to a TD pass from QB Hayden Widder and the first of Martin's scores, the Raiders went into the locker room with a 14-0 lead at half-time. After Martin's second scoring run, Scotch Plains-Fanwood was up by three scores and seemed to have the game firmly in control.
"Shawn can be a dynamic back. He really showed it today," said Raiders head coach Austin Holman, who made his Scotch Plains-Fanwood coaching debut on Saturday. "Shawn rushed for almost 200 yards; he put on a display."
About with about four minutes left in the 3rd quarter, Holy Cross finally got on the board when Josiah Bello caught a 20-yard scoring strike from QB Liwanu Miller. After the Lancers made the 2-point conversion, they stunned the Raiders by recovering an onside kick and marched down the field and scored again on a Miller-to-Bello 25-yard connection. The three touchdown lead was quickly cut to just one and zapped the energy from the Raiders sideline and the crowd.
In the fourth quarter, running back Nasir Abney took over the game for Holy Cross. The massive 6' 2, 235 sophomore wore down the Raider defense and scored to make the game 21-20. Once again, the Lancers converted for two more points and pulled ahead for the first time, 22-21.
"We did things right, and we played hard. But when you haven't had success, you have to learn how to win and to finish the game," Coach Holman said after the game. "It's the next step. This week, we will take all the good things and push to do better and work to correct the bad things."
"In 16 years of coaching, I've never seen a group that needed to win as much as this team," Coach Holman added. "They really pushed it. The town came out today (to support them). Those kids did all the right things. We'll keep working."
Next week, the Raiders go on the road to take on Carteret.
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