LYNDHURST, N.J. -- The Meadowlands Football League concluded its 2016 season with an exciting night of championship football Saturday at Lyndhurst High School.
SENIORS : The Hasbrouck Heights Senior Aviators defeated the Carlstadt/Rutherford Wildcats in a tight defensive game, 14-6, marred by a driving rainstorm, freezing rain and high winds in the first half.
The Wildcats capitalized on good field position following an Aviators bad snap in the first quarter, setting up the Wildcats inside the 10. The wet conditions initially also cost the Wildcats as they fumbled on third and goal.
The Aviators offense was not able to get anything going and turned the ball over at the 12-yard line on downs. Wildcats running backs Cencir Bacote and Robert Barbier pounded the ball on the ground, with Barbier scoring on the first play of the second quarter for a 6-0 lead. A bad snap on the conversion kept the score at 6-0.
The second quarter saw both teams stay between the 40s, as neither team was able to mount any offense.
The weather improved in the second half and Heights quickly scored. After Rocco Minichiello pounded the left side of the Wildcats line for 15 yards on two carries, Steven Faussette sprinted 49 yards around the right side on a quarterback keeper to tie the score at 6-6. Minichiello pounded the ball in on the conversion, and Heights had a 7-6 lead.
The Wildcats tried to bounce back, but quarterback Logan Cox’s pass was intercepted by Faussette. Three plays into the fourth quarter, Justin Mucci busted a 25-yard run down to 5 yard line. Faussette went four yards on a quarterback keeper to the right, before scoring from a yard away going the other way for a 13-6 lead.
Faussette’s heroics continued as he recovered the ensuring kickoff, giving Heights the ball with 8:58 remaining in the game and allowing the Aviators take valuable time off the clock.
The Wildcats mounted one last drive after taking over on downs from the Aviators at their 35. Cox hit Barbier and Joe Crifasi for key gains to move the ball into Heights territory. A fourth-and-six completion to Robert Colaneri with 1:25 remaining put the ball at the 20. But on second and ten, the Wildcats mishandled the snap and the Aviators recovered with 59 seconds remaining in the game.
Faussette, who scored both touchdowns on offense, also had two interceptions on the day.
JUNIORS : Anthony Almeida scored four touchdowns and Kiernan McNeil three as the North Arlington Vikings upset Hasbrouck Heights, 46-35, in a high-scoring shootout for the Juniors Super Bowl championship. The Aviators had defeated the Vikings, 27-6, in a Week 2 match-up. Anthony Dilascio scored all 35 of the Aviators points, rushing for five touchdowns and five conversions.
Heights defense, which previously had only given up 43 points in the previous 10 games, could not handle the cut-back ability of Almeida, who broke runs of 85, 23, 85 and 48 yards for scores. McNeil scored from 1 and 39 yards on the ground, and also had a 15-yard catch for another touchdown.
Heights countered with Dilascio, who broke scoring runs of 28, 77, 49, 20 and 48 yards for the Aviators.
With all the explosive scoring plays, the game ultimately turned on North Arlington’s ability to recover critical onside kicks that turned into scoring drives. The Aviator offense also was done in by a pair of holding penalties with the Aviators down 34-28 and in a first-and-goal situation. The Aviators’s drive stalled, and the Vikings opened up a two-score lead with 2:49 remaining.
Dilascio’s final TD run following the kickoff cut the lead to 40-35 with 2:49 remaining. But Almeida’s final touchdown run clinched the game for the Vikings.
PEE WEES : A 30-yard touchdown pass from Matthew Mulligan to Bryan Cunningham on the first play of the fourth quarter lifted the New Milford Knights to the Pee Wee Super Bowl championship, defeating Lyndhurst, 7-0, in a defensive battle.
Frankie Falco and Nathaniel Barriteau led the Bears defense on the day. Lyndhurst suffered its first defeat of the season, finishing at 10-1.