Coming off a humbling loss to mighty Rutherford a week ago, there were questions the Glen Rock football team needed to answer on Friday night. How would the Panthers respond after their first loss of the season? How would they perform against a Hasbrouck Heights team that had won the Meadowlands Division of the NJIC and was far more talented than any of the teams they had beaten this season? Could they handle Aviators running back Anthony DiLascio, the second-leading rusher in the state? Could they win a close game?
The Panthers answered all those questions with a thrilling, come-from-behind, 14-7 overtime victory over the Aviators at Alan Deaett Field that improved their record to 5-1, got them back on the winning track, and put them in the driver’s seat in the hunt for a berth in the state playoffs with two games remaining in the season.
Quarterback Andrew Knight scored the winning touchdown in overtime on a one-yard run, and then defensive end John Scotto sacked the Hasbrouck Heights quarterback on fourth down on the Aviators’ ensuing possession to preserve the win for the Panthers.
For Knight, a senior, the finish was sweet, after he had to fight through some adversity in the game. After Hasbrouck Heights (4-2) had scored early in the first quarter to take the lead, Glen Rock was playing from behind the entire game, and the Panthers turned the ball over twice inside the Aviators’ 10-yard line on interceptions thrown by Knight.
But midway through the fourth quarter, Knight shrugged all that off and hit senior receiver Sean Stephenson on a 38-yard bomb, perfectly placed between three defenders, to put Glen Rock on the Heights 25-yard line. Two plays later, Knight drilled a 23-yard strike over the middle to senior Tony Atme for a touchdown with 4:11 remaining. Sophomore kicker John Iachetti’s extra point tied the game, 7-7.
Each team had a chance to win in regulation, but the game went to overtime and Glen Rock won the coin toss and chose to go on offense first. On the first play of the OT, Knight hit Atme with a 24-yard pass that put the ball at the 1-yard line. Knight ran it in on the next play, behind the lead block of senior running back Aiden Burkhardt, to put Glen Rock ahead.
But the game wasn’t over yet. Hasbrouck Heights got its turn to try and score from the 25-yard line and the Glen Rock defense would need a stop. After two runs by quarterback Frank Billings, DiLascio, who had entered the game with 1,197 yards in the Aviators’ first five games, ran for six yards on third-and-7, setting up the final fourth-and-1 for Hasbrouck Heights at the 16-yard line. Instead of handing the ball to DiLascio, who had rushed for 145 yards in the game, Billings dropped back to pass. But Scotto raced into the Heights backfield unblocked, and swallowed the quarterback up for the game-ending sack.
Unfortunately, Billings was injured on the play, suffering an apparent broken ankle. But the play was clean, and the game was over.
The Panthers’ next game will be next Friday, Oct. 14, at home against North Arlington, which finished second in the Meadowlands Division behind Hasbrouck Heights. That game will be Homecoming for Glen Rock. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.