SPRINGFIELD, NJ - They battled valiantly. But in the end, the Jonathan Dayton Football team came up just short in heart-rending fashion to Roselle Park, who kicked a field goal to win with 11 seconds left on the clock.
With the loss, the Bulldogs drop to 0-3 on the season, after losses to New Providence in week one, and David Brearly (Kenilworth) in week two.
The Bulldogs started cold, gifting Roselle Park 13 points off miscues in the first half, before mounting a comeback effort. Anthony Apicella found Jovanni Salcfas and Aneus Brown for touchdown passes, and also handed the ball off to Juan Perez for the other score.
Perez was instrumental in leading the attempted comeback, ripping off several long runs to set the team up in position to finish the comeback. He spoke with TAPinto after the game about what he had seen on the field.
"My linemen did their job," Perez said. "I'd seen the hole. It took a while to develop, but I hit it and I hit it hard, and that's when we got them gains."
For Perez, even in the loss he still said the team is taking lessons from the game that it will try to put towards next week's contest.
"We know we can do it, we just have to execute that bit more," he said. "[Roselle Park] wanted it a little bit more, and they got it. We just have to work ten times harder now. We was working five times harder, now we've got to work ten."
For coach Dom Cuniglio, the loss stings, especially knowing how close his team was. He reiterated what he had told the team in the huddle, and said that the key was minimizing mistakes in the early game.
"The theme is the same," Cuniglio said. "We've gotta fix the mistakes that we continue to make, learn from it, and get better. We can't continue to inflict wounds on ourself. We gave them 13 in the first half, made a valiant comeback to cut it to six at the half."
"We took what they were giving us," he added. "Everybody looks at us...and they think we're just gonna throw it. But we came out, we took what the defense gave us [in the run game]."
Next week, Jonathan Dayton returns to game action at home against South Hunterdon. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.