NORTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - Ominously, for the stat-obsessed, the scoreboard went on the fritz about eight seconds after the Summit High School Varsity Football Team's game at North Plainfield kicked off.
Like a circa late 1970s VCR that no human without a degree from MIT could hope to program, the scoreboard first went all full zeros, then displayed nothing but dashes -- yes, dashes -- before going totally dark.
The digital devil that possessed the system was eventually exorcised which, considering the fact that the Hilltoppers and the Canucks combined for 93 points on the night was, to put it mildly, was fortuitous. Even more fortuitous than that for fans of the Maroon and White, was the fact that Summit scored 61-plus percent of those near 100 points, to emerge victorious, 57-36.
The inverse of the not-always-true sports cliche that game was closer than the score indicates applied in this tilt: this game was definitely not as close as the final totals on the afore-mentioned scoreboard.
Summit held a 50-14 lead ten seconds into the fourth quarter before lots of Hilltopper substitutions and a few big North Plainfield pass plays led to a 22-7 scoreline over the final 11:50 in favor of the home team.
In the end, a 'W' is a 'W' and now Summit has a matching pair of those to open the season, which is job very well done especially considering the boys from the 07901 opened the campaign with consecutive road games.
Early on, there was no foreshadowing that nearly 100 points were in the offing. Summit opened the scoring at the 4:49 mark of the first quarter when senior quarterback Sam Roberts hooked up with classmate and captain Joe Lusardi on a 60-yard toss and dash for a touchdown. The two-point conversion failed and the Hilltoppers were in front, 6-0.
The Canucks came back with a drive of their own and, just over two-and-a-half minutes later, they tied things up. On the PAT, Lusardi broke through the line, did his best George Gervin imitation, and blocked the extra point kick.
From there, on an idyllic night that sneakily began to cool down quickly temperature-wise, things began to heat up -- from a points perspective.
Senior Matty Goldblatt ran the ensuing kick-off back 50 yards giving the Summit primo field position. A series of run culminated in Goldblatt himself grinding over, The two-point conversion again failed and the visitors led again, 12-6 with 23.7 seconds remaining in the opening quarter.
A scant 30 second into the second stanza, Summit led by a baker's dozen after senior cornerback EJ Sorenson jumped an quick out and ran 15 yards for a pick six. Junior Brock Froschauer kicked the extra point through the uprights, over the protective netting, and darned near through the drive-up window of the neighboring CVS Pharmacy and Summit led 19-6.
North Plainfield punched back and got a long TD pass and two-point conversion of their own to narrow things to 19-14 at the 6:16 mark, but then, over the next 18-and-a-half minutes of pigskin, The 'Top scored the game's next 31 points.
Roberts found Lusardi for a east-west winder of a play that brought big yardage, then hit senior John Fischetti -- who used 6' 2 1/2" of his 6' 3" frame to haul in the pass -- for the touchdown. Roberts ran in the two-point conversion himself and it was 27-13 with 3:40 left in the second quarter, a score that remained unchanged as the half ended.
A big stop on downs by the Summit defense near midfield set up a drive that ended with junior Austin Groce belting over the goal line. The two-point conversion clicked and it was 35-19 at the 8:19 mark.
The game's next two plays from scrimmage essentially sealed the deal. Senior Andre Campbell tipped a pass that would up in the hands of classmate Evan Deutsch. On the next play, Goldblatt hit paydirt and -- after another two-pointer -- the Hilltoppers led 43-14.
It took until the 11:50 mark of the final quarter, but Summit got to the half-century mark -- again courtesy of a Goldblatt run. Froschauer banged the PAT right off the flagpole that sits behind the uprights and Summit entered running clock territory, up 50-14.
The Hilltoppers would reach The House one more time, with junior Eli Bergner getting his just deserts after some hard fourth quarter runs that were met with some frustration-laden hard tackles by the Canucks. Froschauer's PAT gave Summit their 57th point.
The finish from there was exactly Mona Lisa-esque, but 2-0 to start the season looks pretty good to Hilltopper Nation.
"We were up 27-14 and halftime and we challenged the team to come out and finish the job," said Summit Head Coach Kevin Kostibos. "We went on a run, built a big lead and were able to get a lot of kids into the game. We need to get better at recognizing changes on the fly that are thrown at us by our opponents, but we got a good road win against a good team tonight."
Next, Summit will next face a highly-ranked Rahway squad in the Hilltoppers' home opener September 28. Kick-off at Tatlock Park is set for 1 p.m.