Montclair Mounties swarm Shaun Alexander (23) after his game-winning interception on Friday, Oct. 22. MHS beat the Lancers 20-17 in double overtime.
ANDREW GARDA/STAFF

BY ANDREW GARDA
garda@montclairlocal.news

LIVINGSTON – No experienced starting quarterback? No problem for the Montclair High School football team, which beat Livingston High School 20-17 in double overtime on Friday, Oct. 22.

MHS has not lost to the Lancers sine 2010, John Fiore’s first year with the team.

Fiore is taking the year off, but head coach Pete Ramiccio was there the last time Montclair lost, and he and the Mounties did everything they could to make sure it didn’t happen again.

Montclair came into the game with the deck stacked against them. First, starting quarterback Drew Pfeifer was sidelined with an arm injury which he suffered early in the West Orange game.

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Pfeifer gutted out the injury against the Mountaineers, but couldn’t go Friday night. Normally, this wouldn’t have been a big issue but former starter Solomon Brennan left the team last week, leaving the Mounties without a backup.

Enter Jayden Lee, the starting quarterback for the freshman team.

Friday night against a hungry team like Livingston is a tough spot to put a quarterback in for their first Varsity start, especially when they hadn’t even dressed for a Varsity game, much less gotten any reps in one.

But Lee never looked overwhelmed, and offensive coordinator Pat Leonardis didn’t ask him to do too much, and relying on the ground game.

That wasn’t an easy task as the Lancers stacked the front against the run, and the Montclair offensive line was without Ethan Daddabbo and failed to open many running lanes for the backfield. Still Jordan Williams fought hard, and Semaj Adams was given a few turns in the backfield, providing a spark the offense has lacked of late.

Still, it took a while, and the defense needed to really step up while the offense got its feet. The Mounties were able to put kicker Gage Hammond in position to get a field goal, and then Lee and the offense would move the balldownfield on their next possesion, with Jordan Williams finding the outside edge on a run, and scoring a game-tying touchdown.

In overtime, Livingston got the ball first and initially Montclair was able to push them backwards, though Livingston managed to help out with some penalties.

However, on a 4th and 25, Livingston’s quarterback connected with a receiver downfield, and the Lancers scored. Montclair’s coaches were incensed, as there were multiple offensive lineman downfield, which should have negated the score, but the officials missed the call and now MHS needed to score a touchdown to tie the game.

Montclair stalled again until Adams took a turn under center and tossed a ball downfield towards David Thom-Rodgers who nearly caught the ball despite being interfered with.

Adams ran the ball into the end zone a short time later and Hammond tied the game with the extra point.

Hammond would step up again a short time later, as Montclair now began the second overtime sequence on offense. Montclair was able to move the ball forward just enough for a 24-yard field goal to give Montclair the lead, 20-17.

Livingston threatened again, though, as despite getting constant pressure, Montclair didn’t seem to be able to pull the quarterback down. As the Lancer quarterback scrambled, he thought he spied an open player downfield, but Shaun Alexander stepped in front of the ball and hauled it in for an interception on the one-yard line.

That turnover gave Montclair the win and likely a secure place in the upcoming playoffs.

For a complete analysis as well as quotes from Ramiccio, Adams and Lee, check out this week’s print edition of Montclair Local as well as the website on Monday.