Football: Roselle Pulls Away in 4th Quarter to Beat Bernards, 34-17

Ethan Caldwell (3) carries the ball as Joey Billotti (8) breaks to the outside. Credits: Guy Kipp
Bernards tri-captains Cubby Schuller (57), Declan McParland (66) and Lofton Hoover (10) Credits: Guy Kipp
Bernards QB Lofton Hoover gains yardage on a keeper against Roselle. Credits: Guy Kipp

RAHWAY, NJ - The learning process continues for a very young Bernards varsity football team, which hung tough with a much faster Roselle squad for three quarters Friday night before the Rams pulled away.

Roselle scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to put the wraps on a 34-17 victory over Bernards at Rahway River Park.

All 17 of Bernards' points were scored by two sophomores and a freshman.

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After an exchange of lost fumbles, Roselle scored the game's first touchdown with 4:47 left in the first quarter when a 2-yard quarterback sneak capped a nine-play, 84-yard drive.

But Bernards (0-2) showed impressive control of the line of scrimmage and a deft diversity of play-calling on its next possession. The Mountaineers drove 68 yards in eight plays, scoring on halfback Joey Billotti's 45-yard TD pass to sophomore Jackson Tantleff on an option play. Billotti, also a sophomore, took a handoff, ran right, then pulled up and lofted a perfect strike down the right sideline to a wide open Tantleff, as Bernards had drawn Roselle's defense away from the deep ball with five consecutive running plays. Freshman Steven Lopez' extra point gave Bernards a 7-6 lead with 1:20 left in the first quarter.

The teams again exchanged turnovers on their next respective possessions, with Roselle returning an interception 40 yards back to the Bernards 27-yard line early in the second quarter to set up a four-play drive capped by a 4-yard TD run and a two-point conversion that gave the Rams a 14-7 lead with 5:35 left in the first half.

The Mountaineers answered with a nine-play drive that began on their 39, featured a 25-yard run around left end by Billotti down to the Roselle 36, and which was capped by a 29-yard field goal by Lopez with 5:35 left to bring Bernards within 14-10.

Bernards, which scored on a TD pass from senior QB Lofton Hoover to sophomore Lucas Ritchie in the third quarter, was still within three, 20-17, before Roselle scored twice in the final period.


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Have Thoughts on Legal Weed? Assembly Joe Danielsen Wants to Hear from You

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EDISON, NJ - Lifelong Franklin resident, Assemblyman Joe Danielsen (D-17 Middlesex/Somerset), chairman of the Assembly Oversight, Reform, and Federal Relations Committee will host the first installment of his "Cannabis Listening Tour" at Middlesex Community College this Saturday. 

The hearing is open to the public and will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.