Irvington HS football team defeats East Orange Campus HS

NEWARK, NJ — The Irvington High School football team defeated East Orange Campus High School, 50-20, on Monday, Sept. 11, at Schools Stadium in Newark.

Irvington earned its first win of the season and improved to 1-2. EOCHS fell to 0-2.

What a difference a year makes. Last year, East Orange Campus traveled across town to Irvington High School for a showdown of two defending state regional championship teams in their respective groups. Irvington defeated Northern Highlands two years ago to bring home its first NJSIAA North, Group 4 state regional championship in school history. East Orange Campus defeated Clifton in triple overtime to win the North, Group 5 regional title to cap a perfect 13-0 season. Both regional finals were played at Rutgers University’s SHI Stadium in Piscataway.

Irvington won last year’s meeting with East Orange Campus in double overtime. Both teams lost early in their respective state sectional playoffs last season at the hands of the teams that they defeated in the 2021 regional finals. Once again, these two powerhouses faced each other for neighborhood bragging rights and the possibility of how they would look towards playoffs in the next couple of months.

Irvington was coming off two tough losses to Camden Eastside and Millville, which are two South Jersey powerhouses in the West Jersey Football League. Camden Eastside, formerly Woodrow Wilson High School, drove two hours north on the New Jersey Turnpike to Irvington to come away with a 6-0 week 0 win. Irvington followed up that loss with a two-hour ride down to Vineland to face the Millville High School Thunderbolts. Irvington defeated Millville last season at Rutgers’ SHI Stadium in Piscataway by the score 25-17. This year Irvington didn’t fare so well with a 34-0 loss. East Orange, on the other hand, was fresh off a 30-12 Labor Day weekend loss to vaunted foe Clifton High School.

The game suffered a postponement on Saturday, Sept. 9, at Newark Schools Stadium and then a rain delay for the Monday Night Lights edition where Irvington’s running back-by-committee made its stand against the Jaguars. So much so, Irvington jumped out to a very speedy 15-0 first quarter lead. 

Irvington’s running delegation, led by senior Vaboue Toure, sophomore Jayden Herron, sophomore Na’cir Ransom, junior Malachi Dudley, senior Kareem Corey and freshman Jamir Howell, went a combined 15 plays in the opening minutes of the game. In that drive, they coughed up a fumble, only to regain the fumble on East Orange’s first snap and also mixed in one pass attempt for the whole game which kept Irvington’s frontline busy against the Jaguars defense, led by Junior DL Alvins Collin, and the swarming defensive backfield, led by Shakur Taylor. 

The first touchdown was from Toure, a Penn State commit, from 7 yards out with 6:56 left in the opening quarter, taking the early 8-0 lead after the two-point conversion. After East Orange’s second possession resulted in a short punt, Herron followed suit on a 12-yard run, capping a four-play, 31-yard drive that included an overpowering scrum to push for a big gain and for a first down that set up the stretching 15-0 score after the point-after kick.

But East Orange Campus was motivated as it started to get it together in the second quarter. Senior QB Kyree Fisher found a way to drive 83 yards in 12 plays with the help of junior receivers Taylor and Isaac Mathurin, and sophomore Alex Hanks, who capped the first score with an 8-yard reception to cut the score to 15-6 early in the second quarter. 

Irvington’s immediate response came nine plays and 51 yards later with Herron’s 11-yard  touchdown scoot with 5:19 left in the first half to make it 22-6. East Orange came back with a two-play, 80-yard drive of its own when Fisher called an audible on the second play and launched a 78-yard bomb into the waiting breadbasket of Hanks for the 22-13 trailing score. With the trading of possessions between the two squads, East Orange had just under two minutes left in the half, taking the ball on the Irvington 48. The Jaguars drove down field in 12 plays, getting to the goal line before Irvington senior DB Cameron Richardson snagged an interception for a 100-yard pick-6, taking a 28-13 lead into the half.

In the third quarter, East Orange took the opening kickoff and marched 58 yards in five plays. Fisher found Taylor for 24 yards before finding sophomore WR Ahkir Morgan on another 26-yard scoring strike to pull within 28-20 with just over 10 minutes remaining in the quarter. Once again, the ball exchanged hands with a fumble and a punt, but Irvington churned out 46 yards on the ground in five plays with a 3-yard punch and a two-point conversion to the promise land by Dudley for a 36-20 lead 3:53 left in the quarter. 

With a muffed punt, East Orange was back in the hunt to catch the Blue Knights, but the Jaguars made another big mistake. Irvington junior DL Ishmil Shabazz caused a fumble, followed by a 74-yard rumbling scoop and score for a growing 43-20 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Irvington’s potent ground attack continued to cause problems for East Orange’s defense as the Blue Knights found the end zone for the final time of the game in 10 plays, this time sending Ransom for his second touchdown of the night to close out the game, 50-20. 

East Orange head coach John Jacob much rather would have wanted the game played on Saturday afternoon, but due to the delays, his squad was not firing on all cylinders. He stated that his team had to quickly put this loss in the rearview mirror and quickly prepare for their upcoming game against the Randolph Rams in Randolph on Friday evening, Sept. 15, at 7 p.m.

Meanwhile, Irvington head coach Ashley “Smoke” Pierre said, “We have a lot to clean up on. If it wasn’t for the interception and fumble returns, we would definitely have been in a dog fight with EO. I have to give them their props. They are definitely a team to watch out for.” 

Irvington will head up the Clinton Avenue corridor on Thursday, Sept. 14, to face a surging Columbia Cougars squad, which is coming off their second win of the season over Paterson Eastside with a 37-0 decision.