ANNANDALE, NJ – The Orange High School varsity football team started off fast.
The upset was in the making.
But second-seeded North Hunterdon regrouped and ended the Tornadoes’ season on a cold night.
North Hunterdon scored 26 unanswered points to beat seventh-seeded Orange, 26-9, in the quarterfinal round of the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group 4 state playoffs on Friday night, Nov. 10, in Annandale.
The Tornadoes, under head coach Randy Daniel, finished the season with a 4-6 record.
On the first possession of the game, North Hunterdon went three-and-out and was forced to punt. Orange senior defensive Nasir Givens blocked Matt Busher’s punt, giving the Tornadoes the ball deep in North Hunterdon territory. But OHS’ drive was stalled on a turnover of downs.
North Hunterdon took over possession, but Givens came through again with a sack in the end zone for a safety to put Orange up, 2-0.
In the second quarter, North Hunterdon muffed a punt that Orange recovered. The Tornadoes scored on the ensuing drive as senior Nyquee Hawkins ran for a 2-yard TD to give the Tornadoes a 9-0 lead.
Busher, North Hunterdon’s quarterback, found Griffin Honthly for a 16-yard TD pass with 1:16 left in the half to cut it to 9-6.
Busher ran for a 56-yard TD on North Hunterdon’s first possession of the second half to give his team a 12-9 lead. Luke Wain later scored on TD runs of 8 and 6 yards to seal the win. North Hunterdon improved to 9-1.
For the Tornadoes, the season was filled with tough losses. Orange lost to Mahwah, 15-12, at Bell Stadium on a tiebreaking field goal with about five minutes left in the game for its first loss to move to 1-1. The following week, the Tornadoes again lost on a tiebreaking field goal in the third quarter against West Essex, 10-7, at Bell Stadium.
The losing streak reached three games as the Tornadoes fell to Passaic Valley, 23-14, after Orange squandered a 14-0 lead.
Orange broke the losing skid with a 19-0 home win over Barringer, but lost the next two games in overtime. The Tornadoes led 14-0 at halftime, but lost at Nutley, 21-14, in overtime.
Orange also led 14-0 at the half and 21-0 in the third quarter before losing to Parsippany Hills, 34-28, in overtime at home to fall to 2-5.
The Tornadoes bounced back to win the next two games in convincing fashion. Orange won at Newark Central, 41-6, and Chatham, 40-2, at home.
Sept. 9, Won, at Ferris, 47-6
Sept. 15, Loss, Mahwah, 15-12
Sept. 23, Loss, West Essex, 10-7
Sept. 30, Loss, at Passaic Valley, 23-14
Oct. 7, Won, Barringer, 19-0
Oct. 14, Loss, at Nutley, 21-14 (OT)
Oct. 21, Loss, Parsippany Hills, 34-28 (OT)
Oct. 27, Won, at Central, 41-6
Nov. 3, Won, Chatham, 40-2
Nov. 10, Loss, at North Hunterdon, 26-9
*North Jersey Section 2, Group 4 playoffs