The dream of a playoff berth was always an extreme longshot for the Glen Rock High School football team after opening the season with three straight losses.
Now, the dream is officially over, following the Panthers’ 24-14 loss Friday at Lyndhurst.
A critical turnover with less than four minutes to play gave Lyndhurst the ball back and the host Golden Bears scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 28-yard run to break a 14-14 tie and take the lead for good. Lyndhurst tacked on a 41-yard field goal with 25 seconds left to provide the final margin.
One game remains in the regular season for Glen Rock (3-4). They host 1-6 Harrison on Thursday, Nov. 2 at 6 p.m. at Alan Deaett Field. After that, the Panthers will have a consolation game on the weekend of Nov. 10-11 and the season will be over.
The Panthers entered the game on a three-game winning streak, having beaten Garfield, Palisades Park and Lodi following losses to Rutherford, Manchester and Waldwick-Midland Park to start the season. The odds of making the North 1, Group 2 playoffs after that kind of start were long, but a 5-3 record was enough to get them into the postseason a year ago, and so the Panthers fought hard to try all they could do to give themselves a chance at the postseason this year.
But Lyndhurst (4-3) proved a tough opponent from the start. The Panthers struggled to move the ball consistently on offense, and fell behind in the second quarter before a one-yard scoring run by senior quarterback Dom Patania tied the game 7-7. Lyndhurst got a late touchdown just before halftime on a trick play, with the running back throwing a touchdown pass, but the Panthers finally got even late in the fourth quarter, when Patania connected with junior receiver Ashton Dalessio on a 90-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 14-14.
But the elation at the big play didn’t last long, as a turnover gave the hosts the ball back and they took advantage, scoring on a run by running back Piotr Partyla, who had two rushing touchdowns, and also threw a TD pass.