|VIDEO: Opportunistic West Essex storms past Nutley in playoffs|
The most remarkable statistic from West Essex's first-round state football victory over Nutley wasn't the 40-0 final score in favor of the Knights. Instead, considering the lopsided margin of victory, the stunning stat is that the Knights actually had fewer drives reach into opposition territory than did Nutley.
The difference in the game was that West Essex finished each of its six drives that crossed midfield with touchdowns, while Nutley saw each of its seven such drives falter in one way or another. As a result, the top-seeded Knights move on to the semifinals in North 2, Group III.
Sophomore running back Will Perez had a huge night, scoring four touchdowns. He ran the ball eight times for 80 yards and three scores, and also caught a 52-yard touchdown pass from Zach Lemanski.
The four TD's matched Perez's season total coming into the game, and the pass reception was only his second of the season.
Mike Lacovara was the leading rusher for West Essex with 101 yards and also made several key plays on defense, including a sack and a fumble recovery. Vincent Scaglia added 93 rushing yards for the Knights.
Lemanski threw just four passes, but completed three for 109 yards and the one score. Anthony Sangillo and Luke Dignazio both scored rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter to cap off the big night for the Knights.
Nutley just couldn't find a way to reach the end zone after starting their drives effectively. The eighth-seeded Raiders missed a field goal and fumbled three times in West Essex territory.
Quarterback Josh O'Neill ran for 59 yards and threw for 79 for Nutley, which finishes its season at 3-7.
West Essex, which also beat Nutley in last year's state playoffs, will host fourth seed Parsippany Hills in the sectional semifinals.
For sports video highlights of this New Jersey high school state playoff football game, click play in the box at left.