High School Football Roundup-Week 3-September 23-24th

By Rich Fisher

It was heartbreak Saturday for Hamilton West and Steinert on the gridiron, as both teams dropped to 1-2 after letting sizeable first-half leads slip away today.

The Hornets were stunned by West Windsor-Plainsboro South, which took a 29-28 West Jersey Football League Valley Division victory at Bill McEvoy Field to snap a 12-game losing streak. The Pirates, who went 1-19 over the previous two seasons and were 0-2 this year, last won on Nov. 13, 2014 when they beat Robbinsville.

Steinert had it all going its way with a 21-6 lead at Pemberton, but the offense stalled when running back Xavier Thompson left with an ankle injury and the Pemberton Hornets rallied for a 28-24 victory in a WJFL Patriot Division opener.

While the Spartans’ game appeared to be a toss-up heading into the contest, Hamilton’s loss was definitely a shocker and had a disappointing ending when a Hornet 27-yard FG attempt went wide right.

Coming off its first win over Notre Dame in 15 games, the Hornets hardly looked like they were suffering a letdown as they jumped to a 13-0 lead. But with under 2:30 remaining in the first half, West Windsor scored two touchdowns for a 14-13 edge at intermission, serving notice it was not about to roll over after a 41-0 loss to WW-P North last week.

South maintained its momentum early in the second half, driving into Hamilton territory before Chris Charles came up with an interception to give the Hornets a boost. West capitalized by getting a 6-yard TD run from Barry Ndeh and a conversion pass from Hezekiah Patterson to Charles for a 21-14 advantage.

The Pirates refused to fold and drove to the Hornet 10, where it faced a fourth down. Hamilton committed pass interference penalty in the endzone, which put the ball on the five. It was still fourth down but West Windsor only needed one more play as Zyion Cooper went up the middle for a touchdown to tie it at 21-21.

The Hornets answered again, as Reidgee Dimanche scored on his second touchdown run of the game to make it 28-21 with under six minutes left. The Hornets had a chance to salt the game away when Charles came up with his second interception on a fake punt, giving Hamilton possession with 3:30 remaining.

The Pirates defense held and after a Hornet punt, WWPS took over at its 45. Scott Cochrane threw a long completion to set up a first-and-goal, and the quarterback then took it in to pull West Windsor within one. Pirates’ coach Skip Edwards rolled the dice and went for the win. He got it when Cochrane found Anthony Taylor with the conversion pass.

After the ensuing kickoff, Hamilton started at its 43 with 43 seconds left. A 30-yard completion from Patterson to Charles put the ball on the WWPS 10-yard line with seven seconds left. Coach Tom Hoglen sent out the field goal team, but the kick went immediately wide right to touch off a Pirate celebration.

West will try and bounce back Friday night when it visits Hightstown for the Rams Hall of Fame Induction night.

While Hamilton’s Hornets fell short, Pemberton’s Hornets rallied.

Steinert, coming off a brutal 20-19 loss to Lawrence last week, appeared to have shrugged it off by storming to a 15-point lead in the games first 7 minutes, 35 seconds. But for a second straight week, the Spartans could not hold a lead.

Kyle Gankiewicz found Jordan Morrison with a 27-yard touchdown pass four minutes into the game. The Spartans defense followed with a big series, and Xavier Roman then scooped up a blocked punt and had to go just three yards into the endzone to make it 14-0 with 7:11 left in the first quarter.

Pemberton (2-1), which got roughed up at Ewing last week, came right back on a 3-yard touchdown run by Ja’Quay Redding.

Still in the first quarter, Steinert got a 19-yard TD run from Thompson with 4:25 remaining. But the running back would soon leave for the day with an ankle issue.

The defenses finally began to settle in before Pemberton got a huge play with just 2:13 left in the half. Joe Benson found Kevin Clifton with a 67-yard scoring strike and the Hornets converted a two-point conversion to make it 21-14 by halftime.

Pemberton struck for another big play early in the second half when Benson found Will Hodges with a 50-yard touchdown pass. The conversion run failed as Steinert clung to a 1-point lead.

Jordan Goodarz picked up a sizable return on the ensuing kickoff, and made it pay off when he booted a 27-yard field goal with 5:10 left in the third. Benson continued to torment the Spartans, however, as he scored on a 2-yard run with 6:34 remaining in the game. A conversion run made it 28-24, which is how the game ended.

Steinert will try and get back to .500 when it hosts Princeton Saturday.

* * *

A tough football weekend for Hamilton Township started Friday night when Ewing hung on for a 17-14 win over visiting Nottingham in a battle of 2-0 teams.

The Northstars took a 7-0 lead on Jon Jacobs 3-yard TD run before the Blue Devils scored 17 unanswered points. Late in the game, Devion Stokes’ blocked punt led to a 20-yard touchdown pass from Dionte West to Jeffrey Davis to make it 17-14 with 3:11 left.

Ewing then chewed up most of the clock as Nottingham could only try a Hail Mary that was intercepted.

The Northstars will entertain WW-P North on Saturday.

Follow Rich Fisher on twitter @fish4scores

About The Author

Rich Fisher has been around the Hamilton Township sports scene for so long that he actually got Rich Giallella’s autograph when Giallella was still a player! Proud product of Hamilton YMCA and Lou Gehrig baseball leagues and former teammate of Jim Maher on a very average Barton & Cooney rec basketball team, Fish graduated from Nottingham Junior High and Steinert High school and has covered township sports since 1980. His goal in life is to convince Maria Prato that Jersey tomatoes are at least 100 times better than California tomatoes.