ORANGE, NJ – The Orange High School varsity football team lost to Parsippany Hills, 34-28, in overtime on Saturday afternoon, Oct. 21, at Bell Stadium.
It was the Tornadoes’ second straight overtime loss and dropped their record to 2-5.
“We were stunned last week against Nutley,” said OHS head coach Randy Daniel, “and we played our butts off this week. It just so happens we weren’t the winners in these very tight games.”
Orange and Par Hills traded five punts collectively during the opening stanza of the game. It was shaping out to be a defensive showdown with a quarterback duel thrown in the mix, as Orange QB George Crespo and Par Hills QB Nick Verducci gave the crowd a show the whole game. The two field generals played two different styles all the while, showing off their duel-threat capabilities.
Crespo would draw first blood in the second quarter after Verducci drove almost the length of the field in 12 plays in the second quarter before the Tornadoes’ defense turned them back and forced the Vikings to punt.
Crespo sent bruising running back Jair McClary off to the races with a 14-yard gain before hitting the air raid button and unleashing a 65-yard bomb over an unsuspecting Vikings secondary, connecting with wide receiver Michael Pennix to the Vikings 1-yard line. McClary would finish the drive with a 1-yard plunge into the house, giving Orange the 7-0 lead with just 5:33 left in the first half.
Verducci and his Vikings couldn’t answer at all, being forced to punt twice by Orange’s stingy defense, led by Mahkye Boswell (13 tackles), Nasir Given (10 tackles and 1 sack), and Nyquee Hawkins (7 tackles and 1 interception).
With just 1:08 left in the half, Crespo went back to his air raid attack from his own 40-yard line. He missed his mark with WR Quasean Waithe and Pennix, but found Boswell for a 48-yard hookup. Crespo followed that up with another pass for 12 yards and a score to Waithe, taking a 14-0 lead in the half.
As the third quarter arrived, Verducci and company decided to put their reputation as a dangerous second-half team to the test. First they had to find a way to stop Orange’s high-powered scoring capability. Orange found the end zone on its first series of the second half. Crespo found Boswell leaking into the Vikings’ secondary with the resulting 31-yard touchdown pass and a 21-0 lead. Verducci responded quickly with a 3-yard run and a 6-yard connection to Matthew Borecki before sending running back Wilson Done on a 68-yard sprint to the Orange 2-yard line. From there, he tossed a 2-yard backside dump pass to WR Jayson Marte to cut Orange’s lead to 21-7.
The Tornadoes responded in kind with McClary rushing four times for 24 yards on the series before Crespo hit Boswell again on a 30-yard strike. Boswell finished the 71-yard drive with a 7-yard reception from Nyquee Hawkins, putting the game back in their control, 28-7.
The Vikings took advantage of what would be a seemingly easy Tornadoes drive when they hopped on a fumbled ball, giving Par Hills very good field position. Verducci found Marte again from 13 yards out to once again cut the Tornadoes’ lead, 28-14, by the end of the third frame. Verducci wasn’t through as he marshaled his squad down field 80 yards in 11 plays, finding Matthew Borecki for 7 yards and giving the Vikings some hope while trailing, 28-21, with 4:24 left in the contest.
Crespo tried to respond, but the wind was already taken from them and the momentum was already in the Vikings’ favor. Verducci found Marte again on a 12-yard backside throw into the end zone for the tie and overtime. Verducci and Co. would drive the 25 yards in the extended period with Verducci diving in for the score, which ultimately sealed the Tornadoes’ fate 34-28.
“I have to give it to our young guys in Jayson Marte, EJ Comerford and Matthew Borecki who all stepped up for us today,” said Parsippany Hills head coach David Albano. “We knew Orange is a lot better than what is showing on their record this season. Coach Daniel is doing an awesome job and I want to see him continue to win as many games as he can.”
Parsippany Hills will continue to be the team to beat in the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group 3 state playoff race, while Orange may still have a chance going into Friday’s contest against Newark Central High School. “We can’t overlook Central since they won big against West Side and beat Madison in a close shootout,” said Daniel. “We see that they are in the hunt as well, but can play spoiler to our playoff chances. We will work on this over the upcoming week and look to see if we can actually pull this one out.” The Tornadoes will face Central at Shabazz Stadium in Newark on Friday, Oct. 27, at 7 p.m.
NOTE – Orange High School also was celebrating its 9th annual Cancer Awareness Day. They presented the local chapter of the American Cancer Association with a check for $4,000 during their halftime show.