In their biggest test of the young season, the Eagles A-Team stood toe to toe with a true heavyweight, the Wayne Panthers. When the smoke cleared, Coach Steve Lupo’s team was on the winning end of a 6-0 slugfest. Unlike last week’s game, this one would go down to the wire.
It would be the Eagles defense that set the tone early, as Pat McMurtrie and a blitzing Anthony Zamloot hit the Panthers quarterback as he passed on 3rd down causing an incompletion. Following an exchange of punts, the Panthers moved to the Verona 31 yard line. On 2nd down, Tommy “TK” Kellner snaked through and tackled the ball-carrier for a loss. On 3rd down, “Pat The Bat” Haughney sacked the quarterback, and after an incomplete pass, the Eagles had the ball again.
Tom Sharkey passed to Zamloot for 10 yards out to the 40-yard line. Peter Farley ran a sweep around left end for 12 more. Zamloot then pounded up the middle for 5 tough yards, and Shark threw a swing pass to Matthew “Frungillo.com” Frungillo, who gained 12 yards and another first down as the first quarter came to a close.
Unfortunately, a fumble turned the ball back over to Wayne. Once again the Eagle D was up to the task. Pat The Bat again batted down an attempted screen pass and on 3rd and 7 it would be Brian Hipp who broke up a pass play to once again force Wayne to punt.
Starting on their own 21-yard line mid-way through the 2nd quarter, the Eagles O would finally get in gear. First Sharkey hit Zamloot with a pass and a first down. The same two would hook up on a pretty screen play that would take the ball out to the Eagles 44-yard line. For a third time it would be Shark to Zamloot – this time for 10 yards. There was 1:40 left in the half, on a 4th down play, when Sharkey dropped back to pass. His offensive line, made up of Pat McMurtrie, Matt Aldiero, Jack “Bones” Gautieri, Brian Hipp, and Matt Monroe gave him plenty of time, and Shark hit a streaking Peter Farley down the right sideline for a 43 yard TD strike! The Eagles held a 6-0 lead as half-time approached.
Wayne tried to respond, but Brian Hipp was there to intercept a pass as the half ended with the score 6-0 Eagles.
The second half had no scoring, but plenty of highlights. Most of them were on the defensive side of the ball, where Coach Chris Venezia’s gang really came to play. Zach Balogh and Brendan Erwin were flying to the ball making tackles. PJ Jordan played hard both as a d-tackle and a d-end, and was in the backfield all day. Zamloot, Aldo, Jordan, and Matt Monroe all combined on a quarterback sack. One player in particular made his presence known on both sides of the ball. If you wore a black jersey you probably wanted to know where #44 Zamloot was. Zam-Bam must’ve woken up on the wrong side of the bed, which was good news for the Eagles and bad news for the Panthers.
Still the game was not out of reach until Tommy Sharkey picked off the last gasp pass attempt by the Panthers’ quarterback.
A great win moves the Eagles to 3-0 as they look forward to a rare Saturday night home game against East Hanover/Florham Park. Game time at Centennial field should be around 8 p.m. Come out and support the boys as they attempt to move to 4-0!
Photos copyright Deb Aldiero. Used by permission.