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Glen Rock headed to playoffs after win over Lyndhurst

Panthers rally from 13-point halftime deficit to win, 19-13 in overtime, finish regular season 5-2

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On to the playoffs.

The Glen Rock High School football team maybe would have snuck into the state playoffs even with a loss Friday night in its regular season finale on the road at Lyndhurst, but head coach Jim Kurz’ team left nothing to chance and secured its postseason spot by coming back from a two-touchdown halftime deficit to beat Lyndhurst in overtime, 19-13.

Quarterback Mike McCarthy scored the winning touchdown on a six-yard run around right end on the Panthers’ third play of the tiebreaker, after the Glen Rock defense had stopped Lyndhurst on their overtime series.

The victory lifted Glen Rock’s record to 5-2 in the seven-game regular season, and the Panthers have won three straight games and five of their last six. They entered the weekend ranked No. 14 in the North Jersey Group 2 United Power Rankings, according to the website gridironnewjersey.com, with the top 16 teams making the playoffs. Two teams ahead of the Panthers in the rankings, No. 10 Lakeland, and No. 9 Hanover Park, lost, so Glen Rock could move up when the playoff seedings come out. The Panthers likely won’t move up enough to get a home playoff game, but they could get a more favorable first-round matchup.

Glen Rock trailed, 13-0 at halftime, but junior cornerback Tony Atme intercepted Lyndhurst quarterback John Lembo’s pass on the second play of the second half and returned it 25 yards to the Lyndhurst 29-yard line. That started the comeback.

A 22-yard run by senior running back Andrew Sara brought the ball down to the three-yard line, and two plays later, McCarthy ran in from a yard out for his first touchdown to get the Panthers on the board. After Lyndhurst (4-3) committed a penalty on the extra point, Kurz decided to try for a two-point conversion, but McCarthy’s run was stopped and Glen Rock trailed 13-6.

With a strong wind blowing, and a light rain coming down, the game turned into a defensive battle at that point. Glen Rock shut down Lembo, who had entered the game with over 1,200 passing yards through the Bears’ first six games. The Panthers eventually tied the game when McCarthy connected with junior receiver Luke Famularo on a 32-yard touchdown on a fourth-and-12 play late in the fourth quarter.

Glen Rock had a chance to win the game in regulation after Famularo recovered a muffed punt on the Lyndhurst 16-yard line, which set up the Panthers for a potential game-winning field goal. Freshman kicker Michael Flaccavento hit a 24-yard kickl for the apparent winner with 2:14 left in the game, but a pre-snap penalty against Lyndhurst forced Glen Rock to try the field goal again, this time from 20 yards. The second kick was missed, but the Glen Rock defense held the Lyndhurst offense and the game went to overtime.

In overtime, teams play college rules, where each team gets a possession beginning at the opponent’s 25-yard line. Lyndhurst had the first possession, but the Glen Rock defense stuffed them on four plays. Then, McCarthy took matters into his own hands, running three straight times.

A two-yard run, followed by a 17-yard run, got the ball down to the six. Then, on third down, McCarthy ran right and went into the end zone untouched for his eighth rushing touchdown of the season.

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