|VIDEO: Ridgewood edges Passaic Tech to claim state title|
After a couple of losses in the state sectional final in recent years, the Ridgewood football team has its championship. It didn't come easy, though, as the Maroons needed a late score and a bit of good fortune to pull out a 14-13 win over Passaic Tech.
Ridgewood claimed the North 1, Group V crown at MetLife Stadium in a rematch of last year's final, won by the Bulldogs. The Maroons also lost in the 2013 final to Montclair.
With the win, Ridgewood finishes the year at 12-0, its first undefeated football season since 1957.
This game was dominated by defense, with neither team cracking 200 yards in total offense. Ridgewood took a 6-0 lead in the first quarter after recovering a fumble inside the five-yard line. It took four plays to score, but Zach Feagles punched it in from the three-yard line for the Maroons.
A blocked punt set up Passaic Tech's first score. Rhazeer Jones deflected the kick to give the Bulldogs the ball inside the Ridgewood 20 just before halftime. After a penalty, Derrick Cuavers tossed a 22-yard touchdown pass to Amado Rodriguez, and the extra point made it 7-6 Passaic Tech at the half.
It stayed that way until midway through the fourth quarter, when Wylie Sherman forced a fumble for Ridgewood and Alex Hong recovered in Bulldogs' territory. The Maroons relied strictly on the run game to march for the go-ahead score, with Feagles finishing off the drive on a one-yard run.
Ridgewood added a critical two-point conversion on a pass from Jack Barclay to Coleston Smith.
Bottled up all game, Passaic Tech suddenly found its rhythm on the ensuing drive. Cuavers completed four passes to Vincent Mariani on the march, including the 15-yard touchdown pass to cap it.
But the narrower professional goal posts at MetLife Stadium came into play on the extra point, which slipped just wide right to keep Ridgewood ahead. After a failed onside kick, the Maroons ran out the clock for their first sectional championship since 2004.
Cuavers ended up with 110 passing yards for Passaic Tech, while Mariani had 70 receiving yards on five catches. The Bulldogs managed just 44 rushing yards, however, as they finished the season at 9-3.
Ridgewood had all of its offensive yardage on the ground, with Feagles leading the way with 92 yards. Paul Calvetti added 49 rushing yards for the Maroons.
Defensively, Ridgewood had five sacks. James Mondi had one of the sacks and led the way with 10 tackles. Jack Kiernan contributed a key interception.
For sports video highlights of this New Jersey high school state playoff football sectional final game, click play in the box at left.