by Andrew Garda
The Montclair Mounties got a win, and a bit of revenge, Saturday afternoon as they defeated the West Orange Mountaineers 35-0 in the first round of the the North I, Group V NJSIAA playoffs.
They did it on the ground, behind a tough offensive line and with the legs of quarterback Charles Murphy Jr. and Josh Crawford.
After stymieing the Mountaineers’ opening drive, Montclair executed a flawless drive down the field, with senior captains Murphy and Crawford alternating runs. Murphy would cap the drive off with a 4-yard touchdown, and with Jacob Manthey’s extra point, the Mounties were quickly up 7 points.
In what would swiftly become a theme for West Orange’s offense, the Mounties defense shut them down again. Montclair’s offense went back to the ground and pound, this time with Crawford burying an 8-yard touchdown run to finish it.
The two seniors would each top over 100 yards rushing with two touchdowns apiece, Murphy adding a 43-yard run and Crawford a 31-yard score, both in the third quarter.
Walter King caught a 35-yard pass from Murphy in the waning moments of the second quarter to round out the day’s scoring.
While the offense was hammering West Orange defense, MHS’ defense was doing the same to the Mountaineers offense.
Led by excellent games from Crawford as well as Gary Robinson Jr. and Shawn Collins, the Mounties locked down the Mountaineer rushing attack, bottling up sophomore Shakhi Carson in his first game back since he was injured against Paterson Kennedy in September.
Shakhi, who lit the Mounties up for 192 yards in Week 0 looked like a different back and found no room against a tenacious defensive line.
All told, West Orange only obtained three first downs all game, one of which came on a penalty, and they turned the ball over twice. Each offensive drive ended in futility as Montclair flew to the ball and swarmed runners. All throughout the day, Robinson was in the thick of it, punishing ball-carriers and dropping them behind the line of scrimmage.
If he wasn’t the first one in, Robinson was often the one to lend a finishing blow to the run and help bring the West Orange back down.
Now that West Orange is out of the way, the Mounties will turn their attention to the North Bergen. The 5-seeded Bruins won handily against 4-seed Hackensack, 28-19 and are a big, tough team which, like everyone in the bracket, likes to run the ball.
The Mounties will have to play bigger and tougher if they are to keep their Woodman win streak – now at 13 games and dating back to October, 2016 – alive.
For complete coverage of this game, including player and coach quotes as well as a look ahead to North Bergen, check out Thursday’s print and digital editions of the Montclair Local.