Nutley HS football team defeats rival Belleville in a thriller

BELLEVILLE/NUTLEY — The Nutley and Belleville high school football teams have engaged in several classic games.

The latest epic meeting was last Friday night, Sept. 10, as the NHS Raiders posted a thrilling 29-28 victory.

It was the BHS Buccaneers’ home opener as they unveiled the new turf field at Doc Ellis Field at Municipal Stadium.

NHS senior quarterback Matt Harbison ran for three touchdowns as the Raiders improved to 2-0.

Belleville, which moved to 1-1, was paced by Terrence Folkes and James Cook Jr., who each scored two touchdowns.

Nutley took an 8-0 lead in the first quarter when Harbison scored on a 1-yard run and Brandon Lucia threw a two-point conversion pass to Billy Mielnicki.

Folkes ran for a 28-yard TD run and Cook scored on the conversion run to tie it 8-8.

Harbison scored on a 2-yard run and Lucia kicked the extra point to put Nutley ahead 15-8.

In the second quarter, Cook scored on runs of 50 and 2 yards to give Belleville a 22-15 halftime lead. Cook ran for the two-point conversion on the 50-yard run.

Lucia ran for a 9-yard TD. He also added the point-after kick in the third quarter to tie it at 22-22.

In the fourth quarter, Harbison ran for a 2-yard TD and Lucia kicked the extra point for a 29-22 lead. Folkes scored on an 84-yard pass from Brent Rojas to cut it to one. The Bucs tried for the two-point conversion but came up short.

The Raiders have won the last 10 meetings against Belleville. The last time Belleville defeated Nutley was in 2008.

NHS head coach JD Vick was proud of his team for its comeback efforts.

“It was a good win for our team,” he stated. “We saw great improvement in our performance from week one. Our defense stopped them when we needed to and overall our offense executed well. Belleville has a good team, Coach (Jermain) Johnson has done a great job with the program. “

The Raiders and Bucs will return to action Sept. 18. Nutley will host Orange at 1 p.m. while Belleville will host Millburn at 7 p.m.

For Nutley, it will be their first game at the Oval this season. In the season opener, they played Bloomfield at Owens Field in a game that was moved from Foley Field in Bloomfield due to damages to the field from the remnants of Hurricane Ida.

“Orange is a talented team with a lot of athletes,” said Vick on the Raiders’ opponent this week. “We hope to continue to improve as a team this week in preparation for our game on Saturday. It will be nice to be back on the Oval.”

Nutley (2-0)

Sept. 3: Win, vs. Bloomfield, 18-13

Sept. 10: Win, at Belleville, 29-28

Sept. 18: vs. Orange, 1 p.m.

Sept. 24: vs. Millburn, 6 p.m.

Oct. 1: at Demarest, 7 p.m.

Oct. 9: vs. River Dell, 1 p.m.

Oct. 16: at Barringer, 1 p.m.

Oct. 23: vs. Bergenfield, 1 p.m.

Oct. 29: at West Essex, 7 p.m.

Belleville (1-1)

Sept. 4: Win, at Barringer, 44-6

Sept. 10: Loss, vs. Nutley, 29-28

Sept. 18: vs. Millburn, 7 p.m.

Sept. 24: at East Side, 7 p.m.

Oct. 1: vs. Orange, 7 p.m.

Oct. 9: at West Essex, 1 p.m.

Oct. 15: at Passaic, 7 p.m.

Oct. 22: at Kearny, 7 p.m.

Oct. 29: vs. North Bergen, 7 p.m.