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Football season ends for Glen Rock with 1-point loss to Newton

Panthers fall, 28-27 to finish 5-4 for second straight year; blocked extra point proves pivotal

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Simon Toffell

The Glen Rock High School team’s football season is over, ending in tears on a sub-freezing night in West Jersey when the Panthers dropped a heart-breaking 28-27 decision to Newton on Friday in the first round of the North Jersey Group 2 state playoffs.

A blocked extra point on the apparent tying touchdown, with 2:09 left to play, was the shocking final twist in a game that was back-and-forth all night between two evenly matched teams. Quarterback Ty Scherer’s third one-yard touchdown run of the night had set the Panthers up for the tie, but the host Braves broke through the Glen Rock line to block the point-after try. Newton then recovered the ensuing onside kickoff and was able to convert one first down and then kneel out the clock. The Braves advanced to play No. 1 seed Verona in the second round.

Glen Rock, which finished 5-4 for the second straight season, had been ranked No. 9 among the 16 teams that made the playoffs in North Group 2; Newton (8-2) was ranked No. 8. The two teams were seeded 4 and 5 in North, Section 2 in what was the closest matchup of the entire first round.

Glen Rock started fast, taking the opening kickoff and driving 65 yards on 11 plays to open a 7-0 lead. Scherer connected with senior wide receiver Anthony Scotto (four catches, including three on the opening drive) for a 15-yard completion on the first play from scrimmage, and sophomore running back Andrew Sara ran in from two yards out on the final play of the drive to stun the hosts.

The Panthers then forced Newton to punt on its opening drive – the Braves went three-and-out, including two false start penalties – and Glen Rock quickly doubled its lead, ripping off another 11-play drive, this one ending with Scherer sneaking over from the 1-yard line with 31 seconds left in the first quarter to put the Panthers up, 14-0.

But Newton found its footing at that point and came back with a strong second quarter to tie the game. Against a Panthers defense that was not the dominant force, it was a week earlier in the shutout win over Pompton Lakes, Newton quarterback Jack Young ran for two touchdowns in the quarter, both on fourth downs. The first came from three yards out and the second on a scramble from seven yards out, after a false start penalty against the Braves had backed them up five yards.

Glen Rock got the ball back for one last possession before the half would end, and the Panthers drove the length of the field and had a chance to retake the lead. Strong running by Sara, who finished with 108 yards rushing, on 23 carries, and a couple of passes from Scherer to running back Greg Schlett set the Panthers up first-and-goal at the 5-yard line. A rush by Sara put the ball at the 1-yard line, but Sara lost two yards on the next play. After a timeout, with 27 seconds left in the half, Scherer (14 rushes, 70 yards, three TDs) ran the ball to the 1-yard line and Glen Rock called a timeout with 5 seconds left.

Glen Rock Going against Newton in the 1st round of states. photo credit: Simon Toffell

With their primary field goal kicker, Matt Theuerkauf, still less than 100 percent as he recovered from a sprained ankle suffered in the Hawthorne game two weeks ago, Glen Rock coach Jim Kurz decided to go for a touchdown, rather than a field goal. Kurz called a pass play, but Newton flushed Scherer from the pocket and the quarterback was forced to heave a throw into a crowd in the end zone that ended up falling incomplete.

Newton got a big kickoff return to start the second half and 54 yards in six plays, taking their first lead, 21-14, on a 13-yard pass from Young, the quarterback, to receiver Aaron Fantasia. Glen Rock answered with another long drive, going 73 yards in 12 plays – the biggest play a 26-yard pass from Scherer (11-of-16, 126 yards) to Owen Stephenson. Scherer’s second 1-yard sneak tied it with 2:33 left in the third quarter.

Newton responded with a 15-play drive that started from their own 40-yard line. The Braves were forced into a fourth-down-and-seven play at the Glen Rock 22-yard line and completed a pass that the officials marked right at the first down marker to keep the drive alive. Four plays later, Newton’s Peyton Nolan scored the winning touchdown from inches away, giving the hosts a 28-21 lead.

Glen Rock got the ball back at their own 30-yard line with 6:32 remaining and stitched together a 70-yard drive that featured more strong running from Sara, who had twice left the game with injuries but kept coming back. After Scherer scored and the kick was blocked, Theuerkauf came in to kick off, but his kick was recovered by Newton’s Fantasia.

The Panthers will be losing 17 seniors from this season’s team: Schlett, the former quarterback who switched to running back after the first game; Scotto and Stephenson, who tied for the team lead in receptions, with 19 each; receiver/defensive back/kicker Theuerkauf; linebacker/running back Michael Maurice; two-way linemen Chris Fink, Connor Kazanjian and Liam Miele; defensive linemen Ben Katzman and Jackson Paige; linebacker Robert Neubert; linebacker/receiver/kicker Myles LoScalzo; receiver/defensive back Jack Ferreri; lineman Steven Palmieri and receivers  Paul Silva, Matt DePaola and David Viggiano.

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