Mike Flaccavento had already gone through the motions at the end of the first half Friday when he tried a last-second field goal that would have given Glen Rock the lead over Park Ridge going into halftime. He didn’t make that one.
But when he got a second chance, he made no mistake.
In the final game of the regular season, Flaccavento, a sophomore, drilled a 26-yard field goal with no time left on the clock to give Glen Rock a thrilling, 17-14 win over Park Ridge, ruining the Owls’ Homecoming celebration, and assuring the Panthers of hosting their first state playoff game since 2015.
Glen Rock, which finished the regular season 7-1, had entered the game as the No. 7 in the United Power Rankings for North Jersey Group 2, with the top 16 teams making the playoffs and the top eight hosting a first-round game. A loss to Park Ridge, the No. 2 team in North Jersey Group 1, might have pushed the Panthers down the rankings and caused them to start the playoffs on the road. Instead, with the win – and a shock loss by No. 5 Dumont to Mahwah – the Panthers should be on the rise when the new rankings come out.
Despite scoring first on a 33-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Andrew Knight to receiver Tony Atme on their second offensive series, the Panthers needed to rally from behind for the victory on Friday. Park Ridge (6-2), which didn’t get its first first down of the game until the final play of the first quarter, tied the game in the middle of the second quarter on a 32-yard run by running back Luke Macfie, then took the lead on the opening series of the second half on a one-yard run by quarterback Cole Hughes.
Glen Rock moved the ball well but kept stalling in the red zone, until, in the final five minutes of the game, Knight hit senior Luke Famularo on a 38-yard pass that put the Panthers on the 18-yard line. Famularo was hurt on the play and it was Flaccavento who came in for him. And it was Flaccavento who caught the 17-yard touchdown pass from Knight, on a fourth-and-9 play, with 4:06 remaining, to tie the game at 14-14.
Then, as Park Ridge started what they hoped would be a game-winning drive, Glen Rock’s Nick Atme intercepted Hughes’ pass at the Owls’ 48-yard line. It was the Panthers’ third interception of the Owl’s quarterback in the game. Defensive end Aiden Burkhardt and linebacker Jack Hattersley had the others. The Panthers also had three sacks, with Burkhardt, Hattersley, and sophomore Peter Lagemann getting to the quarterback.
With excellent field position and 3:04 remaining, Glen Rock methodically moved the ball down the field until, with two seconds left and the ball at the Park Ridge 8-yard line, coach Jim Kurz called his final timeout and sent Flaccavento onto the field to attempt the winning kick.
It was a show of faith by Kurz in Flaccavento, who had missed all three of his field goal attempts on the season, including the 39-yard try at the end of the first half. Park Ridge called timeout to try and ice Flaccavento, but it didn’t work. The snap was good, the hold was clean and the kick was perfect.