Emerson (5-0) and Park Ridge (4-1), who are normally Thanksgiving Day rivals, squared off for the NJIC Patriot Division B title on Friday night, Oct. 8.

The Cavos who have been rolling up points on offense this season were stymied by the Park Ridge defense. It took a timely turnover and two special teams� plays to lead them to a 14-13 victory.

“I just feel so good for these kids,” said Emerson coach Mike Mendetto.

Defensive struggle

The game was a defensive struggle right from the outset. On Emerson�s second drive of the game quarterback Frank Parisi completed a pass to Shawn Carpenter who fumbled as he was being tackled. Park Ridge defensive back Jake Vitaliano scooped up the ball and scampered 57 yards for the first score of the game.

Emerson Quarterback Shane Reilly drops back to pass.

Emerson Quarterback Shane Reilly drops back to pass.

Emerson got on the board late in the first half. Quarterback Shane Reilly found running back Josh Owimrin down the sideline for a 30-yard TD pass to cap a 73-yard drive. The Cavos missed the extra point and trailed 7-6 at halftime.

In the third quarter Park Ridge put together their only sustained drive of the game. Led by the legs of Troy Manheimer, they grinded out a 16-play drive that covered 68 yards in 7:06. Manheimer ran the ball nine times for 42 yards. Then junior Steven Schneider plunged in on a quarterback sneak from the 1-yard line.

“That drive could have changed the course of the game for us,” said Park Ridge coach Gary Mioli.

Costly mistake

However, the extra point attempt was blocked by George Peralta, leaving the score 13-6.

It would prove to be a costly mistake.

On Park Ridge�s next possession, in the fourth quarter, the ball was snapped over Manheimer’s head and recovered by the Cavos. The miscue gave Emerson a short field, starting on the Owls 28-yard line. Reilly scored on a quarterback sneak. After the touchdown Park Ridge was flagged for a personal foul penalty, the third of the game for the Owls.

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Photo credit: Robert Pytel