It was Jake McConnachie’s birthday yesterday, but he was the one giving the gifts: A 42-yard reception that set up Verona football’s first touchdown against Newton, and an interception followed by a field-long run that led to Verona’s last touchdown. When all was said and done, Verona came away with a 29-7 win in the semifinals of the North Jersey Section 2, Group 2 playoffs.
The first half of the game wasn’t the runaway that has been standard in Verona football this season. McConnachie’s touchdown was soon answered by one from Newton’s Julian Sibbles, but play after play just ended with minimal yardage gained in a tangle of linesmen in maroon and white–Newton’s colors, as well as Verona’s. Both teams had turnovers on stalled drives, but Isaac Skrivanic put some muscle into his kicks that left the Braves to brave unfavorable field position. Skrivanic also delivered some key tackles, along with Christian Dionisio and Andrew Emanuilidis.
And then Frank Riggio did what he has done so well this season: Break away from the crowd and dash towards the end zone. Riggio made a 64-yard run in the second quarter that was capped by a two-point play from Steven Luehs. The Hillbilly O-line stepped up the tackles, enabling Riggio to score twice more. His final TD was just a one-yard run in, the yard that McConnachie had been deprived of at the end of his interception play.
The win means that the N2G2 championship game will be held at Sellitto Field in Verona on Friday, November 22, and will pit the #1 seeded Hillbillies against #3 Lenape Valley, a regional high school in northwestern New Jersey. Lenape Valley got to the finals by elbowing out #2 seed Waldwick on Friday.
Photos copyright Kathleen Seubert, Bob Thomas and, not watermarked, Joanna Breitenbach. All used by permission. More photos in this gallery on Facebook.