EAST ORANGE, NJ – The East Orange Campus High School football team lost to Montclair HS, 28-27, Saturday, Sept. 22, at Woodman Field in Montclair.
The Jaguars, coming off a bye week, lost for the first time this season and moved to a 2-1 record. Montclair improved to 2-2.
The game would go down as a classic battle between two storied programs as the rivalry goes back generations. The Jaguars were hoping to get a win and maintain their undefeated status. Jaguar Head Coach Rae Oliver was all business as he wanted to focus on the game at hand. “We shall see,” was all he said with a determined face. He wanted to break the losing streak to Mounties Head Coach John Fiore. Montclair had only one victory over Nutley that was bookended by losses to West Orange, 26-16, and Washington High School of Masilon, Ohio, 49-7. “We are looking to get some retribution in this game,” said Fiore before kickoff.
East Orange deferred the opening kickoff and elected to kick to the Mounties. Montclair tried to score on its first possession but East Orange’s stiff front line led by DT Keshawn Munford, LB Ian Brown and DB Locksley Burke made it very difficult for Montclair QB Charles Murphy Jr. to find his favorite targets in RB Josh Crawford, WR Walter King, and RB Willie Matthews through the air.
After the Mounties punted the ball to the Jaguars, East Orange went two plays in under a minute to score the game’s first score. QB Nasir Montgomery called a double-pass for his squad to do its best New England Patriot passing impression. Montgomery flipped a screen pass to Quadir Scott, who found fellow WR Kasim Daniels wide open for a 49-yard bomb that gave the Jags the early 7-0 lead with 9:04 left in the first quarter. But the Mounties had a little one upmanship going when they answered seven minutes later. Murphy Jr. led the charge, getting his squad down to the East Orange 10-yard line before stealing the lead from East Orange with a hand-off to Crawford, who scooted to the end zone two plays later to give the Mounties the 8-7 lead going into the second quarter.
Again East Orange flexed its potent quick strike muscles when Montgomery showed his dual-threat ability by breaking off a 62-yard run, setting up a 17-yard pitch-and-catch with Scott. The tandem accounted for seven completions for 82 yards and two touchdowns. Montgomery finished with 10 completions on 15 attempts and 176 yards and three touchdowns.
The Jags’ 13-8 lead was short-lived as the Mounties came back quickly to go up 14-13 with just over 10 minutes left in the first half. Murphy and company sped down field in 1:35 late in the second quarter where they scored in five plays, capping a 40-yard drive with a 5-yard Murphy skip to the house, giving Montclair a 21-13 halftime lead.
The second half began with the ball in the Jaguars’ possession where they flashed their quick-strike ability from the ground by Montgomery and RB Bryant Manuel. Montgomery scored from nine yards to cut the Mounties’ lead to 21-19.
Montclair scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter to stretch the lead after J’von Mile jumped on one of several fumbles committed by the Jaguars. It set up Crawford’s 4-yard dive to the house to give the Mounties a 28-19 lead. East Orange was not going out quietly, as it pounced on a Montclair fumble, giving its dangerous attack another chance to strike again. Montgomery didn’t waste time finding one of his favorite targets in Scott as they hooked up for a 35-yard dart with less than five minutes left in the game. “We knew they were gunning for the upset,” said Fiore. “We had to hold on to the lead by playing clock management.” He mentioned that his squad is playing hurt and was down to its fourth- and fifth-string players, as well as JV players.
East Orange Campus will revive its longtime rivalry with vaunted rival Seton Hall Prep this Saturday, Sept. 29, at Paul Robeson Stadium in East Orange at 1 p.m. This will be the first of a two-game homestand that will determine the outcome of the Super Football Conference Liberty Blue Division later this season. With West Orange in the lead with a 2-0 record in the division, East Orange and Montclair will look to topple them in the coming weeks. East Orange will face the West Orange Mountaineers in two weeks under the lights at 7 p.m. Both games will be live streamed via www.nfhsnetwork.com/events/d1m