by Andrew Garda
garda@montclairlocal.news

Montclair High School has been on the wrong side of close games more than once this season. Losses to Seton Hall Prep and Bayonne came down to last second moments where the team just couldn’t come up with a big play at the end of the game.

That was not the case on Saturday, Nov. 2, as the Mounties (5-4) came from behind to beat the Irvington Blue Knights (6-3) by a score of 24-21 with eight seconds left on the clock.

After taking the lead on a Gage Hammond 30-yard field goal with 6:15 left in regulation, a determined Irvington team pushed down the field and took the lead on a Al-Jay Henderson touchdown run with just 3:38 left in the game.

Montclair responded though, and on their next drive moved the chains effectively, even converting on a short fourth down by baiting the Knights into an encroachment penalty.

Then, disaster struck as Robinson was flushed out of the pocket and forced a throw which Irvington intercepted.

Montclair – and Robinson – didn’t hang their heads, however.

First, tMounties defense forced Irvington to punt the ball, and the ensuing kick got a friendly bounce for MHS, ending up with a net gain of just three yards.

With just 57 seconds left, the Mounties offense got to work. Robinson worked to try and get Collins, his best asset of the day, the ball, and was able to gain a first down on a nice pass to the senior tight end with 16 seconds left.

The Mounties offense scrambled into position, and Robinson quickly spiked the ball to stop the clock.

With the ball at the 16-yard line, Robinson dropped back to pass, and was provided great protection from an offensive line which was without senior left tackle Sebastien Fortune.

Meanwhile, Collins headed out on his route, which took him to the end zone. Irvington had spent most of the second half blanketing Collins in coverage and putting multiple players on him both on offense and on defense.

This play was no different as Collins had two Knights with him as Robinson delivered a strike between the two defenders to Collins who did an exceptional job hauling the ball in and keeping control as he was hit and went to the ground with four seconds left in the game.

Then it was just a matter of Montclair’s defense securing the victory on one last play, which they did easily.

Now Montclair will look towards the playoffs, where Sunday morning they found out they will face rival East Orange, on the road.

The No. 6-seeded Mounties are a much different team than they were when they faced the No. 3-seeded Jaguars back on Sept. 28 and lost 26-6. Neither is EO, for that matter, as they lost their starting quarterback not long after that game.

Montclair has plenty to correct before the rematch this week, but beating Irvington in the finals seconds of a tough game, when things looked grim, shows they have the will and character to get the job done.

For a detailed breakdown of the game, as well as quotes from Collins, Robinson and head coach John Fiore, check back throughout the week and in Thursday’s print edition of the Montclair Local.