Iarussi, Defense Lead Summit Past Roselle, 27-6
Saturday, October 13, 2012 • 5:27pm
ROSELLE, NJ - The first quarter may not have gone according to plan for the Summit football team, but the rest of the game did. On Saturday afternoon at the E. Ralph Arminio Sports Complex, the Hilltoppers shook off a slow start on the road and went on to crush the Roselle Rams, 27-6.
Summit's defense appeared to open the game with a three-and-out on Roselle's opening possession. However, the Rams faked the punt, and Damon Haynes ran 93 yards down the left sideline, giving the Rams an early and unexpected lead, 6-0. Summit got into or near the red-zone on their next two drives, but they were stopped on fourth and goal at the three on one, and missed a 39 yard field goal on the other.
So with 11:54 left in the opening half, Roselle looked as though they had come to play, gaining 187 yards through their first two drives. But after forcing a punt on Roselle's third drive, Summit's offense woke up and started scoring, running off 27 unanswered points to improve to 6-0.
"You know, the other team is trying to win too," said Summit head coach John Liberato. "I have to give Lou Grasso and his staff a lot of credit, I give his kids a lot of credit. They deserve to win a game, those guys, they really do, they play hard."
A.J. Iarussi, who rushed for 133 yards and three touchdowns in the game, got things started, with a six yard run up the gut into the end zone. The Mike Badgley extra point was good, and up 7-6, the Hilltoppers stepped on the gas and never let up.
"I don't think that we were performing badly at all, I just think that they came out hard, like I say every time, no one likes to lose," Iarussi said. "We believe they're a good team, we don't think their record shows how good they are. We had a little battle in the first half, but once we started clicking and started rolling, there was nothing stopping us."
Iarussi punched in his second touchdown with 1:06 left to play in the opening half, scoring from 12 yards out, giving Summit an eight point lead and momentum, with the locals slated to receive the opening kick in the second half. Roselle nearly stole that momentum back on the ensuing kickoff, when Roselle's James Womble returned the kick all the way to Summit's 15 yard line. But on the very next play, D.J. Stewart tipped a pass at the line, setting up Colm Dougherty with the interception in the red zone, perhaps saving a momentum changing touchdown.
Kyre Negron took the second half kickoff 67 yards down the right sideline, and Badgley finished off the drive two plays later, taking it in from the three-yard-line, and staking Summit to a 20-6 advantage. Summit's final touchdown came from nine yards out, on an Iarussi run to the left side of the field. It was his 11th touchdown of the season, and he has close to 700 yards rushing through the first six games.
"I'm just giving it my best, I try not to even think about the statistics," Iarussi said. "I am just happy to be a part of this team, we have such a great winning atmosphere on this team, we have great chemistry throughout the sophomores all the way to the seniors, so it's a pleasure each week just to practice with these guys."
Defensively, while the Hilltoppers gave up some big plays and a total of over 300 yards of offense to Roselle, at the end of the day, the Rams only scored six points, which is the fewest allowed by Summit this fall. They forced three turnovers, getting interceptions from Badgley and Dougherty, as well as a fumble recovery at the Summit one-yard-line by Connor O'Malley. Had the Rams scored a touchdown on that drive, they could've closed to within six points of Summit.
"We weren't surprised [by Roselle], we knew it was going to be a dog fight," Liberato said. "We weren't coming here thinking we were going to blow them out, we respect all of the opponents that we face."
On the ground, Summit racked up 261 yards, getting 46 from Negron and 54 from Badgely. Roselle fell to 0-5 with the loss.
Not that they needed any help with playoff positioning, as the Hilltoppers' 79 power points was by far the most in the North II Group 3 section, but Saturday's win will just add a little cushioning for them. The Hilltoppers seem to be on the path to having home field advantage throughout the postseason, as they are the only unbeaten team remaining in the section.
Summit, which extended its regular season winning streak to 32 games with the victory, hosts Warren Hills next Saturday afternoon at Tatlock Sports Complex.