SOMERVILLE, NJ.– An undefeated season is on the line In the regular season football finale for the Somerville Pioneers, expected to be a tough contest against the Summit High School Hilltoppers, who have lost only one game this year.
They are the two top teams in the Mid-State 38.
The Hilltoppers come into this game with a 7-1 record, riding a two-game win streak. Their only loss came in week six against Somerville’s division foe, Cranford. Summit’s most recent win was a 35-20 victory over the Rahway Indians last Friday night.
A close game at halftime, Summit pulled away from Rahway in the second half by outscoring the Indians 21-7 in the final 24 minutes of the game. Summit’s offense was spearheaded by senior RB Matt Murdock. The senior tailback had 151 yards rushing on 12 carries, finding the end zone twice. On the season, Murdock has 612 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns.
Murdock is also influential in the passing game as well. While he hasn’t registered a catch in his last two games, he has three receiving touchdowns on the year and a total of 268 yards. The Hilltoppers offense has been averaging 32.4 points per game. Their season high in scoring came against Scotch Plains-Fanwood in week four, when the Summit offense put up 54 points.
The Summit defense has been giving up an average of 24.3 points per game. Their best defensive performance of the year came against Somerville’s cross town rival Immaculata, where the Hilltoppers defense gave up only six points to the Spartan offense.
The Pioneers, meanwhile, come into this matchup undefeated on the season and coming off a 63-7 win on Somerville’s senior night against Scotch Plains-Fanwood.
Against the Raiders, the Pioneers put up a season-best 42 points in the first quarter. Playing in only the first quarter, senior QB Nick Couzzi completed five of eight passes for 20 yards and a touchdown. He also had a big first quarter running the football as he rushed five times for a total of 127 yards and three touchdowns.
On the year, Somerville’s offense has been one of the most productive units in the state as they’ve averaged 51.5 points per game.
The Pioneer defense has been a key part of Somerville’s success, stopping their opponents and causing momentum-changing turnovers. The defense is lead in part by senior DL AJ Akins and junior LB Ryan Hrabinski. Akins has 51 tackles on the year including 14 sacks; both numbers are team highs. Hrabinski also has a knack for getting to the opposing quarterback, as the 5’11 linebacker has 12 sacks of his own.
With last week’s performance against the Raiders, the Pioneer defense has now held opponents to under 10 points in its last three games. On average, the Somerville defense gives up 16.1 points per game. Six points given up to Arthur L. Johnson two weeks ago is still the season best for the Pioneers.
Last season when these two teams met, the Pioneers pulled out their second and final win of the 2015 season. A second half comeback saw the Pioneers secure a 30-24 win over the Hilltoppers. With the game tied at 24 apiece at the end of three, the Pioneers rattled off six unanswered points to secure the win.
Former Pioneer QB Michael Tarver threw three touchdowns in the win. Current Pioneers Marcus Burnside and Nas Petties- Jackson both hauled in touchdown grabs. Last year’s win by Somerville broke the four-game winning streak that Summit had over the Pioneers.
After the win against Scotch Plains-Fanwood last week, the Pioneers jumped back up to #16 in the NJ.com Top 20.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 pm Friday at Brooks Field. Follow the Pioneers on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for up-to-date info - @VilleFootball as well as the website www.somervillefootball.com