By Kerry E. Porter
The East Orange Campus High School varsity football team defeated Morristown, 34-14, Saturday, Oct. 28, in Morristown. The Jaguars snapped a three-game losing streak and improved to 4-3.
The Morristown Colonials were completely eliminated from the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 1, Group 5 playoff hunt when they fell to Livingston by one point. So they felt it was their homecoming day with their senior class being recognized throughout the day as visiting East Orange was looking to make their playoff bid a reality.
East Orange had made a couple changes over the week that gave the team a fighting chance. Opting for a quarterback tandem, Head Coach Rae Oliver saw that his senior QB Nasir Montgomery made the option more tangible as he lead the Jaguars most of the way during Saturday’s game. But Morristown QB Jake Buchner made things a bit interesting for the Jaguars.
Buchner showed his hand a little as he fed the ball to standout RB Jhamil King three times in the opening salvo where King would gallop away 59 yards for the opening touchdown and PAT kick for the 7-0 lead. Montgomery’s response was steadfast as he fed the ball to RB Rady Rojas, tossing a quick screen to WR Brian Vincent, called his own number for a 12-yard gain before going again for a speedy 40-yard QB Sweep and the answering score to tie the game at 7-7 early in the first quarter.
The Jags were just warming up when they forced the Colonials to punt on their next series. Taking just only three plays, Montgomery fed the ball to his bruising FB, Devonne Swan, who took the ball and hopped over the Morristown defense while torching them for 48 yards and the 13-7 score.
Still in the first quarter, the Colonials on their very next possession dove into their bag of tricks. Buchner used his fullback, Matthew McNally, to gain a crucial first down before unleashing a flea-flicker bomb on the East Orange defense from backup QB Colin Falk to Jason Jones for 39 yards. But the Jaguars’ defense fizzled out the threat as they forced Morristown to attempt the field goal where it missed the mark. Morristown was able to stop the potent Jaguars’ offensive attack as they fooled Montgomery by intercepting him twice, with each time being in the end zone as he was looking to hit Fayeson Carney.
East Orange got the ball back with 9:43 left in the first half and it was all they need to make short work of the field after the failed Morristown opportunity. Montgomery ran three times for eight yards on the series before unleashing Rojas for a 29-yard run and score to stretch the lead over the Colonials 21-7 at the half.
The third quarter was much like the first quarter with quick strikes and counter-strikes, leaving the crowd to wonder what’s going to happen. The Jaguars received the ball first at their own 20-yard line after a touchback. Montgomery quickly moved the ball 20 yards before letting Alshadee Salaam erupt for a 60-yard touchdown and the 28-7 lead. Morristown responded in kind with a 96-yard kickoff return from Jhamil King, cutting East Orange’s lead in half. But the fireworks weren’t over just yet.
East Orange felt that was just too close for comfort and wanted room to flex one more muscle. Montgomery would marshal the troops, thanks to a big roughing- the-kicker penalty. Bryant Manual would seal the Colonials’ fate as he sprinted 20 yards for the final 34-14 score. Both teams would not score in the final quarter.
“We owe it to our young players who stepped up today to help us when we needed it the most,” said Coach Oliver. Morristown Head Coach John Power stated after the game that he wanted his seniors to play their hearts out on their final home game of the season and high school careers.
For the Jaguars, the win clinched a berth in the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group 5 playoffs. The Jaguars are in fifth place with 78.5 points in the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group 5 power-point standings. The top eight teams by the eighth game in the power-point standings earn playoff berths.
East Orange will host the Mountaineers of West Orange High School with just the playoffs and the Turkey Day Rivalry against Barringer High School left on the schedule. The “Battle of the Oranges” will take place on Saturday, Nov. 4, at 1 p.m. at Paul Robeson Stadium. West Orange tied Livingston, 21-21, Friday, Oct. 27, to move to a 3-4-1, getting knocked out of the state North Jersey Section 1, Group 5 playoff picture.