Glen Rock triumphs over Lyndhurst, clinches playoffs

by Aarav Kochar, Sports Editor

On a frigid Friday Night, the Glen Rock Panthers (5-2) finish an overtime thriller over the Lyndhurst Golden Bears (5-3), as the regular season comes to an end and playoffs football begins, by a score of 19-13. 

The season came down to this. In a dire situation for Glen Rock, it was a win or go home mentality, as the Panthers would have to face a tough matchup on the road against Lyndhurst to decide if they can get a spot in the playoffs. The Panthers, coming off a blowout win for their homecoming against Manchester regional, are looking confident in this matchup, while the Golden Bears are coming off a 41-0 shutout loss to Hawthorne. Already clinching a playoff spot, Lyndhurst’s primary goal coming into the game was to improve their overall record and shatter the Panthers’ playoff hopes. 

This goal started to look like a reality in the game, which was a tale of two halves, per say. After a scoreless first quarter with a clash of two defenses, Lyndhurst was able to strike first on the board with a 5 yard rushing touchdown with their fullback, Angel Velez. However, the 2-point conversion flopped, giving Glen Rock a little bit of momentum despite giving up the first points of the game. 

Unfortunately, that momentum was lost on the next play, as Lyndhurst succeeded at an onside kick attempt due to poor on-field communication and a muffed kick on Glen Rock’s end. Now back on offense, Lyndhurst quarterback John Lembo was able to drive down the field and cap it off with a 6 yard quarterback scramble for a touchdown, extending the lead to 13-0 before halftime. Lyndhurst was slowly starting to run away with the game, and it would surely be done if the Panthers would keep playing sloppy football like what they have been doing for most of the half. Enter the comeback. 

The weather conditions worsened, as the wind grew and the on and off rain continued. The Panthers, looking like a brand new team, came out of the visiting locker room, determined to pick up their slack and leave Lyndhurst with a win. 

Lyndhurst would get the ball to start the half, where they could look to add more to their lead. As the Golden Bears started to form a drive and get to midfield, the tables suddenly turned, as Panthers junior cornerback Tony Atme jumped the wide receiver’s route and intercepted the ball, bringing it to the 29-yard line. The offense was able to capitalize on the interception, as senior running back Andrew Sara had an explosive run, bringing the Panthers inside the Lyndhurst 5 yard line, and senior quarterback Mike McCarthy capped it off with a 1 yard quarterback sneak to bring the Panthers back in what is now a one score game. The 2 point conversion was stopped, making the score 13-6. 

After getting the ball back at the start of the fourth quarter, McCarthy captained the offense and finished it off with a 33 yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Luke Famularo to tie up the game, at 13-13. You could start to see Lyndhurst getting tired and demoralized, as they could not respond to the sudden 13 points they gave up. 

Later in the quarter, Glen Rock was able to get full control of the momentum on one punt play, as the Lyndhurst returner muffed the kick, which gave Famularo the opportunity to recover the kick, setting up the Panthers in a game winning situation, in Lyndhurst territory with under 5 minutes left in the fourth quarter. However, this opportunity wasn’t taken, as the offense wasn’t able to score, leaving the game on the shoulders of freshman kicker Michael Flaccavento. His first kick went right through the middle, but again there was a penalty on Lyndhurst, making the kick a dead play, essentially forcing Glen Rock to kick it again. The second time, however, was no good, going past the upright, leaving the game tied at 13 all. With one final defensive stand from Glen Rock, both teams were headed towards overtime. 

In high school football, overtime rules are similar to NCAA football overtime rules. Each team gets a drive to score. If both teams score, it will keep going until one gets a stop. A defensive score will put the game to an end regardless, similar to the NFL. There are no kickoffs, and instead the offense will start at the 25 yard line and will need to go 25 yards to score a touchdown. 

Lyndhurst got the ball first, giving a golden opportunity for the defense to eventually stop them on a critical 4th down to give the offense a chance to seal the game. After a pair of runs from McCarthy, he set up the offense in a 1st & goal situation, where he was able to put the game to an end with a 7 yard rushing touchdown, his second of the day. The Glen Rock sidelines went crazy, as everyone rushed onto the field to congratulate the offense, as Lyndhurst walked away with their heads down, allowing 19 unanswered points and their second loss in a row.