CEDAR GROVE, NJ - In a must-win, pressure filled game, the Cedar Grove team, led by their defense dominated an undefeated Weequahic team to the tune of a 19-0 victory to keep their playoff hopes alive.
“I give the kids a ton of credit…I kind of had a feeling [at] our team meetings around 5:30 and the guys had that look in their eyes and I said ‘I think you’re tough enough to play with this team for four quarters and I think we’re making huge strides right now and I give the guys a ton of credit,” said Head Coach Rob Gogerty.
The Panthers defense stepped up in a big way against an Indian squad that came in outscoring their opponents 92-39 for the season. In pitching a defensive shutout the squad generated two turnovers and allowed just two first downs for the entire contest.
“It came down to playing football this week, blocking and tackling…we were going to run straight ahead right at them and they were going to come right at us and we focused on blocking and tackling,” said Gogerty.
Cedar Grove utilized their defensive effort to set up the offense with prime field position. Late in the second quarter the Panthers would connect on a 16-yard touchdown pass from Sam Ventola to Mike Lever for the game’s eventual decisive score.
“Coaches up in the box saw that I was going to be open and I trusted it, ran right to the corner and I was open,” said Mike Lever.
The Panthers weren’t finished as they needed to secure a victory with an insurance touchdown. After the defense came up with a sack on third down forcing a punt the offense was set-up at the Indian 29-yard line for a chance to score again midway through the third quarter. Four plays later Sam Ventola connected on his second TD pass of the game, a 25-yarder to John Guaimano for the 12-0 Panther lead. For the duo it was the fifth time in three games they have reached the end-zone.
“We kind of talked at halftime because they went to those one on one coverages and I said to [the receivers] I think they are good enough to beat guys and guys will have to make one on one plays and John continues to do it,” said Gogerty.
Cedar Grove capped off their momentous victory with one more score in the third quarter to take the 19-0 lead. Quarterback Sam Ventola capped off his day of over 200 all-purpose yards with his third score of the contest on a 12-yard touchdown run. For Ventola, he’s accounted for eight TD’s in his last three games as the senior signal caller continues to heat up.
“It’s amazing [Ventola’s play] because that gets our run game working [as well],” said Mike Lever.
For Cedar Grove, the victory improves the team to 3-2 on the season as they’ve now won three games in a row. The group will look to continue to ride the momentum as they take on 4-1 Westwood on October 13.
“We’ve just got to keep going hard at practice that’s what it’s all about…after we lost the first two games we’ve been stepping it up,” said Lever.