Photos by Steve Ellmore: East Orange Campus Jaguars (blue uniforms) vs. Elizabeth, Saturday, Nov. 11, playoffs, at Paul Robeson Stadium.
EAST ORANGE, NJ – For the second year in a row, the East Orange Campus High School varsity football team faced the Elizabeth HS Minutemen in the quarterfinal round of the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group 5 state playoffs.
East Orange Campus was looking to avenge last year’s 43-16 loss to Elizabeth. But unfortunately, that wouldn’t be the case, as fifth-seeded Elizabeth defeated the fourth-seeded Jaguars, 26-7, Saturday, Nov. 11, at Paul Robeson Stadium.
East Orange Campus fell to 5-4. Elizabeth improved to 5-5.
Much like last season, both teams fought to a draw for the first quarter, but that was the only thing where the comparison lies. Elizabeth broke the deadlock with 3:45 left in the first half after several miscues and a hungry Jaguar defense, led by Rady Rojas and Devonne Swan, kept the Minutemen from the end zone. Elizabeth QB LeShane Taylor found running room through the middle of the East Orange defense, going 22 yards for the first score of the day.
The Minutemen took advantage of a Jaguar fumble, giving Taylor the opportunity to unload a 39-yard strike to WR Jabril Harmon, giving Elizabeth a 14-0 lead going into the half.
Elizabeth held East Orange to a total of 37 offensive yards for the first half and would continue to hold them much of the third quarter. Elizabeth would strike again with punt returner Clarence Wilkens scooting around the Jaguars’ hard-charging special teams unit for a 46-yard score, stretching the lead to 20-0.
East Orange kept up the pressure. Nasir Montgomery was able to connect with his speedy target, Fayeson Carney, twice before connecting for a third time on an 8-yard hook-up, cutting the Minutemen lead to 20-7 with 7:17 left in the game. But Taylor was the difference maker as he broke free for a 39-yard score to seal the Jaguars’ playoff hopes.
“It’s the 10th anniversary of our 2007 State Championship run,” said East Orange head coach Rae Oliver. “We surely knew they were going to focus on our big guns in Rady Rojas, Devonne Swan, and our young quarterbacks in Quadir Scott and Nasir Montgomery.”
Oliver made it clear that they were looking forward to next season and going further in the playoffs, “but first we want to end the season on a high note so we will focus our attention on the traditions that we celebrate every year.”
East Orange will kick off the annual Old Guard Thanksgiving Rivalry Week beginning with the induction of the very first class of East Orange Hall of Fame, The Old Guard Dinner on Thanksgiving Eve, and will culminate the festivities with the annual Barringer Blue Bears vs. East Orange Campus Jaguars Thanksgiving game at Robeson Stadium. Tailgating will begin at 10 a.m. and kickoff is at 11 a.m., stated Oliver.
East Orange will conclude the season by saying goodbye to their Senior Class of 2018 and also begin the preparations for the 2018 season.