|VIDEO: Wayne Hills beats the wind, bops Roxbury in playoffs|
Wayne Hills defied the odds just to get the right to play in the football state playoffs. So perhaps it should have come as no shock that the Patriots defied the weather in their first-round win over Roxbury.
Despite the cold and brutal wind, Brendan Devera passed for 260 yards and four touchdowns as Wayne Hills easily handled the Gaels, 33-7. The Patriots scored twice in the first quarter and were never seriously threatened.
Top-seeded Wayne Hills was initially disqualified from the North 1, Group IV playoffs over a residency dispute surrounding three players. The Patriots earned a reprieve from the New Jersey Commissioner of Education, and were cleared to participate after an NJSIAA panel decided the players were eligible following a six-hour hearing earlier in the week.
The legal wrangling pushed back all of the games in this section by a week, with this contest further delayed until Sunday to allow for sufficient practice time.
The Patriots certainly came out roaring, scoring on a pair of Devera touchdown passes to take a 14-0 lead. Wayne Hills added another score just before halftime, which ended almost all doubt in the difficult weather conditions.
Hunter Hayek caught six passes for 118 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Tyler Hayek made four catches for 66 yards and one score, and Evidence Njoku caught three balls for 67 yards and a touchdown.
The Patriots didn't get much going on the ground, with Devera the leading rusher with 42 yards. Luca Grave added 29 rushing yards and scored a touchdown.
Jason Modak contributed six tackles, a sack and a forced fumble on defense. Anthony Couso had nine tackles for the Patriots.
Roxbury, the eighth seed, gave Wayne Hills fits in a regular-season match-up before losing 42-35, but in this game the Gaels managed just 148 yards of offense, much of that in the fourth quarter. Unlike the Patriots, Roxbury had almost no success throwing the ball.
A touchdown run by Michael Roumes in the fourth quarter allowed Roxbury to avert a shutout. The Gaels finish the season 5-5.
Wayne Hills is now 9-1. The Patriots face fourth seed West Morris in the semifinal round this Saturday at home, with the winner earning a spot in the North 1, Group IV finals at MetLife Stadium on December 4th.
For sports video highlights of this New Jersey high school football state playoff game, click play in the box at left.