IRVINGTON, NJ — The Irvington High School football team would not be denied.
Down by 13 points heading into the fourth quarter, the fourth-seeded Blue Knights rallied for two touchdowns and defeated Cranford, 22-21, in a thrilling North Jersey Section 1, Group 4 playoff first-round game on Saturday, Nov. 9, at IHS.
Al-Jay Henderson scored on a long run to cut it to 21-15 with 9:14 left in regulation and Taiyon Battle ran for the decisive touchdown from the wildcat position, followed by the game-winning extra-point kick with 2:13 left.
The Blue Knights blocked Cranford’s field-goal attempt at the end of the game to seal the win.
The Blue Knights, who improved to 7-3 this season under fourth-year head coach Ashley “Smoke” Pierre, will travel to Allendale in Bergen County to face top-seeded Northern Highlands in the semifinals this Friday, Nov. 15, at 6:15 p.m. Northern Highlands defeated No. 8 seed Colonia, 40-7, Nov. 8, to move to 8-2.
The other semifinal pits No. 6 seed Randolph at No. 2 seed Woodbridge. Randolph upset No. 3 seed Montgomery to move to 6-4, while Woodbridge downed No. 7 seed North Hunterdon, 21-14, to remain unbeaten at 9-0.
The Blue Knights are seeking to reach a sectional final for the second straight season. Last season, they advanced to the North 2, Group 4 final, but lost at Phillipsburg, 42-7.
Photos by Steve Ellmore