EAST ORANGE, NJ — The East Orange Campus High School football team rolled to a 52-12 win over Bloomfield on Saturday afternoon, Sept. 24, at Paul Robeson Stadium. It was the first win of the season for the Jaguars, who improved to 1-3.
The East Orange Campus Jaguars had an agenda this week when a surging Bloomfield Bengals squad came calling for their annual big catfight. East Orange, having lost three straight games, came in with the mindset of breaking into the win column with anything and everything in their arsenal. Bloomfield was riding a wave of good fortune after losing its first two games, to Nutley and West Orange, in blowouts but rebounded to take out Livingston in an old-fashioned knuckle-dragging shootout, giving their head coach Mike Carter his 135th victory.
East Orange, led by senior receiving duo Joshua Richards and BJ Covington, along with junior quarterback Kyree Fisher and senior lineman Elijah Pullins, made Bloomfield’s day turn dark over the course of the game.
Bloomfield, led by dual quarterbacks Joey Jones and Trevor Frantantoni, along with hard-nosed running back Jayden Evans, found the end zone first after trading fumbles in the opening seconds of the game. The Jags pounced on the game’s opening kickoff on an onside kick, but the Bengals immediately ripped the ball out on the first play from scrimmage. With that opportunity Bloomfield took full advantage. Frantantoni found wide receiver Nathaniel Brown on a third-and-nine play, launching a 47-yard fingertip grab in the bread basket for the early first score of the game. That was just the first punch, or so we thought, as East Orange counterpunched with an immediate answer of its own.
Starting from their own 35-yard line, the Jags found a couple of cracks in the Bengals’ defense early. They sent running back Irijah Wright into the teeth of the Bengals’ defense early and often. The Jaguars took control of the ball, going 65 yards in seven plays, culminating in a Fisher-to-Wright screen pass that Wright immediately jumped onto the expressway for a 46-yard touchdown with 3:17 left in the first quarter.
Once again, the Bengals threw another punch into the end zone. With the help of key penalties, a big run from Evans and a big pass from Jones to wide receiver James Fields, putting Bloomfield in striking distance at the East Orange 25-yard line, Frantantoni dropped an absolute dime on Brown for a 25-yard strike, giving Bloomfield the tentative edge at 12-6. But the Jaguars’ counterpunch was just as quick as the first. First, there was the matter of a punt, which put the ball back in the Bengals’ hands, but that wasn’t what created their response. It was the fact that the Jaguar defense came up with a key sack by defensive end Kymanie Deacon that forced Bloomfield to gain its second touchdown. Getting the ball back with just 3:18 left in the half, East Orange proceeded to move the ball 60 yards in four plays, when the East Orange quarterback fired three consecutive strikes to Richards and Covington, with Richards snagging a midair juggling ball all while dragging two Bloomfield defenders to the house, tying the game at 12-12 going into the half.
On the other side of the half, the Jaguars were all business as they received the opening kickoff to start the third quarter. Fisher and Richards were clear on what they were looking to do when they hooked up for a 55-yard bomb with only 11:43 left in the third quarter, East Orange taking the lead for the first time in the game, 20-12, after the 2-point conversion. The Jags would go on to score at will as Fisher would connect with Richards on a 10-yard dart for the 26-12 stretch. Wright, who finished with 151 yards on nine carries and two touchdowns along with his two receptions for 52 yards and a score, would take on the Bloomfield defense head-on up the middle, leaving a sea of Bengals in his wake for an 11-yard touchdown with 4:19 left in the third quarter and a 34-12 lead.
East Orange found its roar as it kept the pressure on Bloomfield in the fourth quarter. Deacon notched his second sack of the day, giving his offense another shot at the end zone. Fisher took another big shot, finding wide receiver Michael Henderson for a 45-yard reception, setting up a 2-yard quiet gut punch by Wright to put the game out of reach at 40-12. That’s when the Jags defense decided to get in on the scoring fun. From his defensive back position, Richards hawked a Frantantoni pass that was intended for his favorite target, Brown, picking the ball out of the air as if he were taking a defensive rebound off the backboard on the basketball court. While managing to stay inbounds, Richards returned the ball for a 58-yard score — and a 46-12 score. But the final nail was when Bloomfield had possession of the ball on its own 31-yard line after the kickoff. Jones mishandled the snap as the Jaguar front line crashed in on him. In the middle of that was Deacon, who scooped the proffered ball up and rumbled in for the final 52-12 score.
“We had hoped to have things go our way,” said Carter after the game. “We were looking to keep our momentum up, but East Orange’s size and speed just wore us down.” He went on to say that East Orange switched gears on them and were too physical in the second half, which made the game harder for the Bengals.
Overall, Jaguars head coach John Jacob was okay with the outcome of the game, telling his squad afterward not to celebrate the result but to celebrate the production and performance. He stated that his squad is growing and getting more comfortable as they begin to have their own identity apart from past squads.
East Orange will take this win and begin the difficult task of preparing for the next game as they head out on the road to visit vaunted rival Montclair at Woodman Field on Saturday, Oct. 1, for a 1 p.m. kickoff. East Orange will stay on the road to play West Orange in the Battle of the Oranges on Oct. 7 before coming home on Oct. 15 to meet up with Passaic County Tech for homecoming. Bloomfield will host the Dickinson Bulldogs from Jersey City at Foley Field on Friday, Sept. 30, before going on the road for two weeks to play Columbia and Barringer, then closing out the regular season with Belleville.
Photos Courtesy of Kerry E. Porter.