SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - One thing everyone knows about playing football is that you can’t always win pretty. Even though that’s true, it’s still somewhat frustrating to have a game you know you should’ve ran away with end up being close or difficult. At the same time though, you’re happy you walked away with the win. The South Plainfield High School football team probably had some mixed emotions after their home game against Carteret on Friday night. Despite looking dominated at times, the Ramblers were able to keep the game close, partially due to some sloppy plays by South Plainfield. The Tigers ultimately succeeded in spite of it, and won the game 25-20, moving their season record to 3-1.

The game had a 1 hour delayed start due to rain and lightning. When the game did start, the Tigers found most of their success through their running game. Jason Lee was a big part of that, running for 40 yards in the first half. A 9 yard run in the first quarter by Lee helped set up a 1 yard QB keeper run by Patrick Waldrop. “We ran the ball well.” said South Plainfield coach Gary Cassio.

Carteret answered back in the 2nd quarter when Da'Avian Ellington ran for 33 yards into the end zone. The Ramblers looked like they might take the lead in the second quarter but an end zone interception by Raeon Cohen fended that attempt off.

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A blocked punt return touchdown in the fourth quarter appeared to seal the deal for the Tigers, but a long Carteret drive led by quarterback Anthony Golino put the game in question. A 4th and long pass from Golino in the closing moments of the game bounced off the hands of a Tiger defensive back and into the hands of Carteret’s Jemar Jordan for a 42 yard touchdown. That put the game at 25-20. A failed onside kick from Carteret on the kickoff after the score finally clinched the game for the Tigers.

For Cassio that play was in some ways a microcosm for the entire game.

“I thought we were sloppy overall.” said the head coach. “The game was delayed for over an hour, so maybe it was a mind thing, but Carteret had the same start time as, and they had to wait around for an hour too. We should have put this team away early, we let them back into the game with the mistakes we made. We’ve got to stop making those mistakes. We’re a good football team when we want to be, but we’ve got to stop with the mistakes. Once they realize they have to play the game the way they’re taught and not the way they want to play, we’re going to have a lot more comfortable leads than this.”

The Tigers did have some bright spots defensively though. They pressured the QB at times, leading to incompletions and a few sacks, and they also made a stand at their own goal line in the second quarter that saved them from a Carteret score.

“Defense came out strong and bent in the middle and they finished strong in the end except for that tipped ball in the end zone.” said Cassio. “Bottom line is we bent but we didn’t break, and we won the game. It’s a good win, a good division and section win.

Cassio says the team needs to shape up before the next time they hit the field.

“We got a tough Bishop Ahr team next week. We got to shore up all the mistakes we’re making.” said Cassio. “I know it was a little wet outside today, but we can’t be so one dimensional, so we’ve got to throw the ball a bit better. Receivers got to run their routes better. Basically, we've got to shore up things.”

Photo Credit: Len Schillaci