by Andrew Garda
That’s more like it.
The Montclair Mounties notched their first win Saturday afternoon, and if it was a week later than expected, it was no less satisfying as they shut out the Nutley Raiders, 35-0.
Things got off to a fantastic start for Montclair as senior cornerback Tariq Jiles read Raiders quarterback Justin Lucia perfectly and stepped in front of a pass meant for senior Eli Acosta.
Seconds later, Jiles found himself in the end zone and the Mounties found themselves with a 7-0 lead.
Montclair never again relinquished that lead, though there were moments when Nutley looked like they might be gaining momentum. Several times the Raiders were able to drive down the field, gashing the Mounties with inside runs and notching first downs.
Inevitably, though, the Montclair defense would stiffen. Senior Gary Robinson Jr had another big game, pressuring Lucia regularly when the quarterback tried to drop back and pass, while also running down anyone who came out of the backfield.
Offensively, the Mounties got plenty of production from Josh Crawford, who scored a pair of touchdowns on the day, and quarterback Charles Murphy Jr., who made some nice passes and scrambled several times for big plays.
Murphy did more of that in the second half, as he seemed to have the measure of the defense and was able to read it well enough to know when to give Crawford the ball and when to keep it and run himself.
The Mounties quarterback took one run for a 60-plus yard touchdown as well. Head coach John Fiore also called for a fake field goal, and Murphy just missed on a pass to an open Jeikson Boyle in the end zone.
The Mounties walked into the lockerroom at halftime with what appeared to be a commanding 21-0 lead.
Then again, Last week the Mounties went to the locker-room in West Orange with what seemed like a commanding 16-0 lead, only to get outscored 26-3 in the second half.
Early on in the third quarter, it seemed like Montclair might slump again as Nutley was able to move the ball well on the ground while the Mountie offense stalled.
They fumbled on their first drive, and then a Murphy pass was intercepted two series later when he receiver waited on the ball.
Finally, the Mounties put together a solid series and Crawford found the end zone with 25 seconds left in the third quarter to put MHS up 28-0.
Montclair then recovered a fumble on the kickoff and at the start of the fourth quarter, Murphy found Walt King in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown. On the play, King had to fight for the ball and did a nice job of wresting it away from the defender.
The game would end with the score 35-0.
While it was an improvement for the Mounties to finish strong and keep their foot on the gas in the second half, there are still a lot of things to clean up.
The Mounties had too many penalties on the day and continue to turn the ball over far too often. Both are things they must figure out before their next game, which is against the formidable Washington High School Tigers in Ohio.
If MHS continues to play sloppy football against the winning-est team in Ohio during next Friday’s game, they could be in for a long night in Massillon.
For an in-depth breakdown of this game, along with a look ahead at the Massillon trip — as well as updates other Montclair sports — check out next Thursday’s edition of the Montclair Local.