EAST ORANGE, NJ – The Jaguars of East Orange Campus High School were back to business as usual when they went to visit the Knights of Paterson Kennedy High School in a varsity football game. Both squads were sporting identical two wins and one loss records going into last Saturday’s contest. The Jaguars were expecting a tough game, but overall were able to hold the Knights at bay and won 14-8.
The Knights, led by sophomore QB/athlete Evelon Babbs, tried to take advantage of some early mistakes, but the Jaguars were able to shut down the Knights, holding them to just over 80 yards in the first quarter. The Knights had picked off East Orange QB Naseem White twice in the quarter and were looking to march into the end zone. But East Orange had a bend-but-don’t-break type of mindset taking the scoreless struggle down to the final seconds of the first quarter where Naseem White, who also plays in the Jaguars’ defensive backfield, found the spark that everyone was looking for. With just under a minute left in the first quarter, White, coming from his free safety position, was one-on-one with scrambling Knights QB Evelon Babbs. Babbs cut to the inside as White was making the attempted tackle. Instead of tackling Babbs, White just picked his pocket, stripping the ball away from Babbs and smoked the stunned Kennedy Knights for an 86-yard touchdown return to open the scoring at 6-0 after the failed extra point kick.
The Jags did not wait long to pounce on the Knights again. After trading a few more punts and a subsequent illegal contact and encroachment penalty by the Knights, East Orange found paydirt with just two quick screen passes to RB Giovanni Shine and RB Nasir Neal from QB Naseem White. Starting on a fresh set of downs after the penalty from their own 39-yard line, White found Shine first for a 6-yard dart to advance the ball to their own 45-yard line. White, on the very next play, found Neal leaking out of the backfield where they connected for a 55-yard dance down the East Orange sideline for the extending score. Shine would put an exclamation point on the score as he dove in for the two-point conversion to put East Orange up 14-0 over the Knights with just 53:6 remaining in the half.
The second half was pretty much the same as the two teams struggled to get past the other’s 30-yard line. However, the Knights found a way to avoid being shut out early in the third quarter. They forced East Orange into a fourth-and-long situation deep in the Jags’ territory. Knights’ DB Jihad Kahok and LB Jameir Taylor led the charge against Jaguars’ punter Naseem White, blocking his punt and setting up shop inside the Jaguars’ 10-yard line. The Knights went into rally mode as they found the end zone two plays later. QB Evelon Babbs did the honors of closing the gap by scoring the two-yard punch and the two-point conversion to pull his squad within a touchdown with 9:46 remaining in the third quarter.
The game saw many more exciting defensive stops, including a pair of interceptions from both defensive units. But East Orange was able to hold off Paterson Kennedy to come away victorious in a classic 14-8 win.”I very proud of what we came here to do,” said East Orange Head Coach Al-Majid Hutchins. “We came here with a plan and we executed it. We still had some mistakes, but overall I am extremely proud of you.” He went on to state that they are going to be in Montclair this Saturday at 1 p.m. “It’s go time and I want all of you here for this,” he said to his squad of their practice schedule and the preparations they will be doing for the week. “This is our season here, fellas. I want you locked in and ready for this game.”
Montclair is coming off a 7-0 loss to Union City as East Orange will take the short drive up Montclair’s Orange Road to Grove and Essex streets for what will ultimately decide who will be in the driver’s seat of North Jersey Super Football Conference- Liberty Blue Division Title at Montclair’s Woodman Field on Saturday Oct. 8.