The stakes certainly weren’t as high for Glen Rock in this year’s meeting with Lyndhurst, but the result had a similar feel as the Panthers were stunned by a Golden Bears team that took advantage of five turnovers and beat them, 28-21 in a North Jersey Interscholastic Conference crossover game Friday night at Alan Deaett Field.
A year ago, in another crossover game between the teams, the Panthers were beaten, 24-14 at Lyndhurst, a loss that eliminated them from playoff contention. This time, with both teams 5-1 entering the game, the loss may have been painful, but it was certainly not a mortal blow to the Panthers’ playoff chances. Glen Rock (5-2) entered the game second in power points in North Jersey, Group 2, so with the top 16 teams making the playoffs, odds are good the Panthers — who have one game remaining in the regular season — will earn an invite to the postseason.
After a scoreless first quarter, Glen Rock – playing without injured senior captain Seve Bilbao – scored two touchdowns in the second quarter to take a 14-0 lead into halftime. Quarterback Greg Schlett scored the first TD on a two-yard sneak with 5:13 remaining in the quarter, and receiver Ashton Dalessio scored the second on a 12-yard pass from Schlett with 15.1 seconds left.
But Lyndhurst (6-1) clearly made some adjustments at halftime, and the Golden Bears came out firing in the second half, tying the score 92 seconds into the second half. The visitors got a big return on the opening kickoff of the second half, giving them good field position at the 37-yard line. They would need three plays from there to score their first touchdown, the final play being a 38-yard run by Piotr Partyla (two rushing touchdowns, one receiving touchdown) with 11:10 left in the quarter. They tied the score on a 26-yard interception return by Jason Lauria, with 10:28 left in the quarter.
Glen Rock re-took the lead when Schlett hit a wide open Aedan Clark for a 34-yard touchdown pass on the next Panthers possession, and when the Panthers then stopped Lyndhurst on a three-and-out – Pierce Tuttle sacked the quarterback on third down – Glen Rock looked ready to pull away.
However, playing on the first cool night of the season, the Panthers seemed to struggle holding on to the football. There were quite a few bobbled catches and dropped balls all night, especially in the second half. A Panthers fumble gave Lyndhurst the ball at the Glen Rock 17-yard line and after the first rush was stopped for a two-yard loss by the Glen Rock defense, Lyndhurst would score the tying touchdown on a 19-yard screen pass from quarterback Brian Podolski to Partyla up the left sideline.
On the next Glen Rock possession, a 23-yard completion from Schlett to receiver Anthony Scotto was nullified by a Panthers penalty, and after two incomplete passes and a punt, Lyndhurst got the ball back at the Glen Rock 41-yard line on the first play of the fourth quarter. Five plays later, Partyla scored on an eight-yard sweep to give Lyndhurst their first lead, 28-21. A Glen Rock three-and-out gave the ball back to Lyndhurst, but the defense came up with a stop to force a punt and the Panthers got the ball back on their own 30-yard line with 2:07 remaining and all three timeouts in hand.
But Glen Rock could not mount a drive to tie the game.
The Panthers now have one game remaining in the regular season. They travel to neighboring Hawthorne (5-2) next Friday. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.