It ended up being a little too close for comfort, but the Glen Rock Panthers held on to beat Ridgefield Park, 13-7, Friday at Alan Deaett Field in the first round of the North Jersey Section 2, Group 2 playoffs. The victory was the Panthers’ first playoff win since 2015 when they reached MetLife Stadium for the North Jersey Section 1 Group 2 championship game.
With the victory, Glen Rock (8-1) advances to the second round of the playoffs, and the Panthers will travel to Newton next Friday for a rematch of the 2019 first-round game against the Braves that the Panthers lost, 35-34. Newton (9-0) dismantled Becton, 49-0 in its first-round game. Kickoff next Friday is scheduled for 7 p.m.
In their first home playoff game since 2015, the Panthers were led on offense by quarterback Andrew Knight, who ran for 105 yards and a touchdown and threw for a touchdown. The Glen Rock defense harassed Ridgefield Park quarterback Brevin Cooney, sacking him five times and intercepting him twice.
Still, Cooney kept the Scarlets in the game after Glen Rock jumped out to an early 13-0 lead. The Panthers scored on their first two possessions, a one-yard run by Knight and then a 25-yard pass by Knight to Luke Famularo. On their third possession, Glen Rock drove the ball to the Ridgefield Park 1-yard line before Knight was stopped millimeters short of the goal line on a fourth-and-1 carry.
The second half was a defensive struggle, with the teams playing a scoreless third quarter before Ridgefield Park (4-5) eventually put together a 13-play, 56-yard drive on their second possession of the fourth quarter. An eight-yard run by Cooney with just under four minutes to play got them on the board.
On the ensuing possession, Glen Rock went three-and-out and gave Ridgefield Park the ball back at their own 42-yard line with 2:28 remaining. Cooney scrambled for seven yards on first down, but sophomore defensive lineman Peter Lagemann sacked the Scarlets quarterback on second down to kill the visitors’ momentum. After an incomplete pass on third down, Cooney’s deep pass was intercepted by Sean Stephenson with 1:30 left.
But the game wasn’t over yet. After Ridgefield Park used their final timeout, a false start penalty by Glen Rock kept the Scarlets alive, as the Panthers were forced to punt the ball with 30 seconds left. Ridgefield Park completed one pass, but couldn’t do anymore as time ran out.