What looked like a given after six games now is no certainty for the Glen Rock High School football team, which suffered its second consecutive loss when it was beaten by neighbor Hawthorne, 35-17 Friday, in the final game of the regular season. The loss dropped the Panthers’ record to 5-3, which will probably be good enough to make the state playoffs, though Glen Rock will have to wait and see.
Entering the weekend, Glen Rock, based on its record and the strength of its schedule, was fifth in power points among Group 2 schools in North Jersey, according to gridironnewjersey.com. The top 16 teams will make the playoffs.
Hawthorne, which was eighth in power points entering the weekend, scored on its first possession of the game, marching 65 yards in 11 plays and taking the lead on a 1-yard keeper by quarterback TJ Palmer. Glen Rock answered with a 24-yard field goal from Justin Douenias after a 16-play, 66-yard drive that featured a fake punt by Douenias, who ran seven yards for a first down.
But Hawthorne (6-2) responded with a 74-yard touchdown drive that took only four plays, the big one being a 58-scramble by the quarterback Palmer, who ultimately would score the Bears’ second touchdown on another keeper, this time from eight yards. Glen Rock went three-and-out on their ensuing possession, and the Bears would go 87 yards to open a 21-3 lead on a 15-yard touchdown pass from Palmer to Nik Schenk. The big play in the drive was another long run by Palmer, one for 34 yards with an additional 15 yards tacked on for a late hit by Glen Rock.
After the ensuing kickoff, Panthers quarterback Greg Schlett hit Ashton Dalessio on the first play for a 62-yard touchdown pass to keep Glen Rock in the game, down 21-10 at halftime.
Glen Rock came up empty on the opening drive of the second half, punting the ball away from the Hawthorne 49-yard line. But the Panthers got their first defensive stop after that, as Hawthorne came up empty on a 14-play drive when Douenias, who besides kicking and punting, also plays receiver and defensive back for the Panthers, batted away a fourth-down pass in the end zone.
The Panthers couldn’t take advantage, however. A turnover gave the ball back to Hawthorne at their own 42-yard line and the Bears needed six plays to score their fourth touchdown of the game, on a 19-yard run by Jalen Palmer. Hawthorne would score one more time, a 35-yard burst up the middle by Joe Aliano to make it 35-10 with 6:18 left in the game, before Schlett connected with Dalessio for his second touchdown to wrap up the scoring.
For Glen Rock, Douenias had what had to be the best game of his football career, leading the team with six catches on offense, plus recording five tackles and a pass broken up on defense, and hitting a field goal, two extra points. He kicked off and punted strongly all game, plus running for the first down on the fake punt. Schlett was 14-for-28 passing for 169 yards and two touchdowns, while Dalessio had five catches for 100 yards and two TDs. Defensively, safeties Anthony Scotto and Owen Stephenson had 10 and nine tackles, respectively.