MAPLEWOOD, NJ - The West Orange football team improved to 6-1 with a 34-6 victory over Columbia on a cold night at Underhill Field on Friday.

The Mountaineers' offensive attack was driven by dual-threat senior quarterback Jahir Blanton, who threw for two touchdowns as well as running in for one more. Blanton and fellow senior McDerby Ceneus, who had rushing scores of 14 and 55 yards, accounted for all five of the West Orange touchdowns. 

The Mountaineer offense was pass-heavy throughout the game which also resulted in two interceptions for Blanton. Both C.J. Ibezim and Eriq Royal had interceptions for the Cougars.

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Columbia’s night was once again defined by missed opportunities and costly turnovers. Their first two offensive possessions both resulted in lost fumbles, the second of which West Orange was able to capitalize on for a touchdown. 

Unlike the Mountaineers, the Cougars could not produce any points off of their takeaways.   

The Cougars were without usual starting quarterback Jimmy Martinez, who was out with an injury. Junior Eli Rivera got the start in his place and was able to find receiver C.J. Ibezim for a 23-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter. It was Rivera’s first touchdown pass on the year and also snapped a 10-quarter scoring drought for the Cougars dating back to an Oct. 11 matchup against East Orange.

“It’s something to build on, especially for Eli,” Columbia head coach Dave Curtin said of the touchdown. Curtin praised Rivera’s development as the quarterback in Martinez’s absence. 

Also of note was an injury to Columbia’s freshman running back Kiambu Jones. He took a hard hit to the ribs late in the first quarter and never returned. Martino Pasteur replaced Jones as the primary running back for the remainder of the game. 

The Cougars (1-6) travel to Nutley next Friday and the Mountaineers are at home next Saturday against Montclair.