EAST ORANGE, NJ – The 2018 installment of the “Battle of the Oranges” featured a classic for the ages as the East Orange Campus High School varsity football Jaguars outlasted the Mountaineers of West Orange HS this past Friday evening, Oct. 5, under the lights at Paul Robeson Stadium in East Orange.
The Jaguars snapped a two-game losing streak and improved to a 3-2 record. West Orange fell to 2-4. The Jaguars were coming off losses to Montclair, 28-27, and Seton Hall Prep, 20-14, while the Mountaineers were looking to rebound after dropping a 13-12 decision to Livingston.
West Orange immediately coughed up the ball on the first play from scrimmage, allowing East Orange LB Matthew Zaio to pounce on the ball as the Jaguars had the opportunity to strike first. But the West Orange defense forced the Jaguars to trade punts with them collectively seven times in the first quarter.
Later in the quarter, East Orange LB Locksley Burke and company broke the scoreless tie by backing the Mountaineers up against their own end zone and forcing yet another three-and-out. Burke (17 tackles, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 interception) along with Ian Brown (15 tackles 2 sacks), Keshawn Munford (8 tackles 2 for losses), Quadir Scott (6 tackles, 1 sack, 2 interceptions, 4 receptions for 42 yards) and Kasim Daniels busted through the Mountaineers front line, swallowing up West Orange punter Bryan Reitberger in the end zone for the safety with 2:55 left in the first quarter.
The second quarter was much like the first, as the struggle to see who will blink first continued. East Orange snagged an interception and a fumble, while West Orange kept the pressure coming, forcing three punts and two turnovers on downs. But the Mountaineers found the promise land with the help of costly penalties against the Jaguars and two big receptions from WR Tayo Akinboade and WR Jordan White, bringing the Mountaineers to the Jags’ 20-yard line before finding the end zone with just 1:29 left in the first half. QB Sean Brown was able to flip the ball to Mehki Green on an option play as Green scooted for a 1-yard touchdown off his right side for the go-ahead 7-2 halftime lead.
The second half was all East Orange. “We tried everything from our normal playbook, but ultimately decided to go toe-to-toe with them,” said Jaguars head coach Rae Oliver. He was speaking about the change in the game plan and sending running backs Leonard Munford (13 carries, 82 yards), Bryan Manuel (18 carries, 105 yards), and Burke (10 carries, 52 yards), and QB Nasir Montgomery (13 carries, 93 yards 1 TD, 12 for 18 passing, 123 yards, 1 TD) into the heart of the Mountaineer defense, led by DT Kevan McLaughlin and LB Dorian Rawls, who combined on 22 tackles and three sacks. The adjustment worked in favor of East Orange as they drove 32 yards in eight plays, capped by Montgomery’s 1-yard sneak into the end zone with just 6:46 left in the third quarter.
East Orange found the end zone again when Montgomery found WR Kasim Daniels (5 receptions, 87 yards, 1 TD) on a screen pass. Daniels hit the spin cycle and cleared the sideline as he galloped for the 14-7 lead.
“Fumbles kept hurting us much as the interceptions and penalties” said a West Orange assistant coach. “We wanted to keep them from running away from us, but we weren’t ready for the switch in game plan.”
The conservative play was enough to keep West Orange from scoring again. “Plays by our backfield helped us go right at them,” said Oliver. “The evidence showed our resilience as a team. We are going through some things that would not be otherwise positive if this was a different circumstance.” He wouldn’t divulge the issues, only to say that they are working to get it fixed and resolved immediately.
East Orange will face Livington on the road for the second year in the row where the Lancers are currently 4-1 this season and proving to be a surprise to all that face them. Meanwhile, the Mountaineers will face the Bulldogs of Passaic County Tech at home. Both games will be under the lights this Friday evening, Oct. 12, where both teams will play for their playoff spots in the new playoff system. Both teams are hopeful for the opportunity to play in the upcoming postseason.
East Orange Campus (3-2)
August 31, Won, Watchung Hills, 50-17
Sept. 7, Won, at Passaic, 30-0
Sept. 22, Loss, at Montclair, 28-27
Sept. 29, Loss, Seton Hall Prep, 20-14
Oct. 5, Won, West Orange, 14-7
Oct. 12, at Livingston, 7 p.m.
Oct. 20, at Columbia, 1 p.m.
Oct. 26, Bloomfield, 7 p.m.
Nov. 22, at Barringer, 10:30 a.m.
West Orange (2-4)
August 30, Won, Montclair, 26-19
Sept. 7, Loss, at Paterson Kennedy, 21-0
Sept. 14, Loss, Don Bosco Prep, 47-20
Sept. 21, Won, Columbia, 44-7
Sept. 28, Loss, Livingston, 13-12
Oct. 5, Loss, at East Orange Campus, 14-7
Oct. 12, Passaic County Tech, 7 p.m.
Oct. 19, at Bloomfield, 7 p.m.
Oct. 27, at Barringer, 1 p.m.