ORANGE, NJ – The Orange High School Tornadoes came into this past Friday night’s varsity football contest in need of a win to pull their record even at 2-2 and stay in contention for the NJSIAA North Jersey, Group 3 Playoffs. The Passaic Valley High School Hornets had a similar idea, seeing that both squads had identical 1-2 records going into Friday’s tilt at Orange’s Bell Stadium.
With misty and raining conditions, the Tornadoes, led by sophomore QB/FS George Crespo and senior WR/SS Dequan Battles, weren’t able to get going against an opportunistic Hornets squad as they lost, 20-12.
The Tornadoes fumbled the game’s opening kickoff, giving the Hornets the first crack at scoring the game’s first touchdown. After trading punts, Passaic Valley marched down the field with help of penalties and was able to send RB Vincenzo Brigati off tackle for 18 yards for the first touchdown late in the first quarter to go up 7-0. Passaic Valley did not score for the remainder of the half and held Orange to just three possessions going into the half.
Passaic Valley found its second wind in the third quarter when WR Shaun Benford found a crease in the Tornadoes defense as he swept left for a 28-yard touchdown, extending the lead to 13-0 with 6:41 to play in the third quarter. Orange found its wind as well as they immediately responded with an eight-play, 73 yard march to the Passaic Valley end zone. Led by RB Tyrese Harris, the Tornadoes drove to the Hornets’ 11-yard line. Harris took it from there as he barreled through a Hornets nest of defenders to get Orange on the scoreboard, closing the gap to 13-6 going into the fourth quarter.
Orange had its rally caps on after a big defensive stop, forcing Passaic Valley to turn the ball over on downs. But the Hornets had other ideas with just 6:52 left in the game. Orange was back up against its own end zone due to a series of penalties and loss of yardage on key plays. Orange QB George Crespo fumbled the exchange to RB Tyrese Harris as the Hornets, led by sophomore DE Michael Bright, dove on the ball like it was a hot potato for the two-yard fumble recovery and a touchdown to stretch Passaic Valley’s lead after kicker Chris Watkins’ point-after kick to 20-6.
Orange was not going down without a fight as it tried to put its late rally caps on. Tornadoes QB George Crespo, who went 7-for-17 on 70 yards and one TD, found his targets in senior WR Dequan Battles and WR Quesean Waite. Crespo found Battle on a big pass play with just three minutes left in the game, a play that garnered a gain of 35 yards to the Passiac Valley 30-yard line. Crespo would find Waite two plays later streaking through the Hornets defensive backfield and laying up a beautiful touch pass where Waite hauled in the delivery with two defenders on him.
With the score 20-12 and the clock winding down under two minutes to go, the Tornadoes needed a touchdown to complete the comeback. But the Hornets didn’t want that to happen. They locked down and held the ball until Orange forced a turnover. However, time ran out before the Tornadoes could get the snap off, giving Passaic Valley its second win of the season and dropping the Tornadoes to 1-3 on the season.
The Tornadoes will be at Newark’s School Stadium to face the Barringer Blue Bears on Saturday, Oct. 8, at 1 p.m. Passaic Valley will be home in Little Falls to take on the Buccaneers of Belleville High School at 2 p.m. on the same day.