Hillbillies Fall To Panthers

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The Hillbillies suffered a tough loss to rival Cedar Grove Panthers 14-6 yesterday in Cedar Grove. The Hillbillies forced the Panthers to turn the ball over four times in the game, including three in the first quarter, but their offense just couldn’t capitalize on Cedar Grove’s mistakes.

In the first quarter senior, Dean DeNicola made two spectacular interceptions off Cedar Grove QB Joe Slattery’s long pass attempts and Frank Greco stripped the ball out of the Panthers’ hands on a run attempt. However the Hillbillies could only convert when junior running back Matt McKeown–led by the blocking of Joe Cordasco, Quinn Cummings, Luke Weiss, Sam Cummings, Ryan Flood and Luke Sniatkowski–was able to run around the end and outrace the Panther defenders for the score.

In the second quarter Slattery hit Paul Rufo and then David Njoku on long touchdown passes to take a 14-6 half-time lead. The Hillbillies continued to battle tough throughout the second half, with Jimmy Crawford, Billy Ferrari and Tyler Bruso alternating on defensive. Their defense, which has played well all season, was able to shut down Slattery’s passing game and the Panther run.

Offensively, they continually pushed the ball deep into Panther territory, putting pressure on Cedar Grove but they just weren’t able to put points on the board. With three minutes left in the game the Hillbillies had a chance to comeback when QB Frank Ferrari hit TE Sniatkowski on a 20-yard strike. On the next play, the Panthers flushed Ferrari out of the pocket and though he had Alex Dellavalle in his sights, a Panther defender dove in front of the senior captain for the pick-off, ending the hopes of a thrilling Hillbilly comeback.

The loss put Verona at 4-2 on the season. Next up is a Friday night game against Weequahic High School at Unterman Field.

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