EAST ORANGE, NJ – The East Orange Campus High School varsity football team defeated Columbia, 41-14, Saturday, Oct. 20, at Lynn V. Profeta Field/Underhill Field Complex in Maplewood for its third straight win to improve to a 5-2 record.
To say that the Cougars of Columbia have given it all they got this season is an understatement. Coming off a near comeback against Bayonne in a 36-28 loss, Columbia was looking for the one game-changing moment where they can upend the surging East Orange Campus Jaguars. But the Cougars had little answers for Nasir Montgomery, Quadir Scott, Matthew Zaio, and the Jaguar defense, led by Lockley Burke and Co.
The first quarter started with East Orange taking its first possession downfield in speedy fashion, led by QB Montgomery, going 52 yards in eight plays on big runs by Leonard Munford, Bryant Manuel, and Zaio. Montgomery found Scott for a 19-yard strike that opened the scoring at 7-0 after the PAT kick with just 7:25 left in the first quarter.
Columbia wasn’t going to take that first jab so lightly as the Cougars quick-strike offense, led by QB/athlete Trey Harris, RB Al-Jay Henderson, and WR Luke Hayes, found a way into East Orange’s red zone just as quickly after trading punts to end the opening frame.
The Cougars showed flashes of why they are so dangerous. The Cougars made quick work of their possession to carry over into the start of the second quarter. They marched 50 yards in nine plays to score on a 3-yard dive by Harris to pull even with the Jaguars, 7-7. They tried to pounce on a Jaguar fumble, but East Orange’s defense, led by Burke, Ian Brown, Keshawn Munford, Chris Stultz and Mahjid Means, made it difficult for the Cougars to gain any traction. The Jaguars found the end zone again after trading interceptions with Columbia. East Orange LB Zaio found a fumbled present from the Cougars as he scooped up a 15-yard touchdown to put his squad up 15-7 after a two-point conversion run by RB Leonard Munford with just 2:35 remaining in the half.
The Cougars weren’t to be out-done as the competition waged hot down to the waning seconds in the first half. Harris found Hayes all alone in the end zone on an 18-yard scoring dart. But it would be Montgomery with the final say for the first half as he found Scott again for a 9-yard pitch-and-catch with no time left to go up 21-14 after the failed two point conversion.
The second half was all East Orange as they took over all facets of the game. “It was all about our focus,” said EOCHS head coach Rae Oliver. He felt that the game play was changing and his players were able to adjust at the right time. “I have to agree with Coach Oliver,” said Montgomery. “It was our focus as we wanted to send a statement to everyone that we’re coming.” Indeed, the statement was made as he commandeered the game by finding Khasim Daniels twice in the second half. Montgomery, who finished 10 of 15 for 205 yards and four touchdowns, found Daniels on a screen pass where he skipped past the Cougar defense, led by LB Henderson and DB Abdul Kone, on the way to a 37-yard touchdown. Montgomery then fed speedy RB Manuel after driving almost the length of the field to cap off a seven-play drive which ended with Bryant’s easy walk into the front door for the extended 35-14 third-quarter lead.
In the fourth quarter, Montgomery delivered a gem of a pass to Daniels. The pass was a set-up from a drive in which it started near midfield. Daniels had his man beat on an inside move to snag the pass from Montgomery to cash in his second touchdown of the day from 18 yards out to cap the scoring at 41-14.
Columba fell to 1-7 with the loss. Manuel finished with 124 rushing yards.
With the playoffs on the horizon, East Orange has one more piece of business to handle. They will play for the right to share the Super Football Conference-Liberty Blue Division championship with Montclair when they host Bloomfield this Friday evening, Oct. 26, at Paul Robeson Stadium. “In looking how things are shaping up, we were hoping to play Ridge High School, but since they lost over the weekend, it might look like we will get Elizabeth instead,” said Oliver.
East Orange will have at least the sixth seed in the field of 16 for the North Jersey Group 5 playoffs. “However it shakes out, we welcome the challenge and the opportunity to have home field advantage,” said Oliver.
Columbia will play its final regular-season game Friday evening, Oct. 26, as well. The will be on the road, visiting Livingston High School, which lost to Montclair, 51-0. Columbia will play a consolation game in two weeks against an opponent to be named later.
Photos by Steve Ellmore
Columbia (red uniforms) vs. East Orange Campus