VERONA, NJ - The Verona Football Team learned that in order to get crucial victories at the varsity level it sometimes takes an extraordinary effort after a last minute touchdown capped off a 21-15 comeback victory.
“I feel really happy for the guys, they played so hard, they were down two touchdowns and came back, it’s good for them,” said Verona Head Coach Lou Racioppe.
Verona was down twice in this contest the most critical being a two-point deficit with 5:55 left in the contest after a 35-yard field goal put Ramsey up. A defensive stand gave the Hillbillies the ball with one last chance to break their losing streak.
Verona’s swiss army knife of a weapon C.J Lavery exploded on a 20-plus yard punt return that coupled with a personal foul set the squad up at the 11-yard line of The Rams.
“I saw [the punt] go up, and then I saw the hole, I thought I have to make something happen,” said Lavery.
Three plays later Lavery finished what he started with a punt return. A one-yard touchdown plunge with 24 seconds left was the game’s decisive score and put Verona in the winning column for the first time this year.
“I knew they weren’t stopping us there, I knew we were getting it,” said Lavery.
The Hillbillies showed tremendous grit rebounding from an early 12-0 deficit to a formerly 2-2 Ramsey squad looking to remain in the playoff hunt. Touchdowns on back to back drives from Chris Frohlich and Cooper Mandel made it seem as if Verona was in for a long night.
“Our season has not gone the way that we wanted it to and it would have been easy for them to give up and they came back hard…I give them a lot of credit they’re tough,” said Racioppe.
Verona took their early lumps and received a spark from their defense in the end of the first to swing the momentum. After a fourth down stop changed the field position The Hillbillies embarked on a seven play 60-yard scoring drive with key contributions from Matt Aldiero, and Steve Petro. Lavery scored his first of two rushing touchdowns with 9:06 left in the half to give Verona some much-needed confidence.
Verona then proceeded to continue their offensive surge late in the half to take the lead. Lavery, produced 43 of his 70 pass yards for the game on this drive alone. Lavery connected with the explosive Jake McConnachie for a 25-yard touchdown strike with 23 seconds left in the half to change the complexion of the contest.
“That was a big one, I thought that when we got that score before the half it really turned the game around,” said Racioppe.
Verona hopes that with their first victory on their home field that they can parlay the experience into a winning streak. The now 1-3 Hillbillies will look to build upon their success and take down 3-1 Glen Ridge on October 7.