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Glen Rock football closes 2020 season with 35-34 OT win over rival Rutherford

In a year impossibly twisted by the coronavirus pandemic that changed the world, the Glen Rock High School football team provided just a little bit of normalcy, and some happiness, in 2020. And, given a chance to rewrite last season’s heartbreaking ending, the Panthers flipped the script in their season finale Friday night when they beat rival Rutherford, 35-34 in overtime at Alan Deaett Field.

 Nico Hernandez-Torre’s extra point was the difference, and set off joyous pandemonium for the home team. Senior quarterback and captain Ty Scherer sprinted over toward the Glen Rock sideline and jumped into the arms of head coach Jim Kurz in celebration, as the entire team followed him as fast as they could.

A year ago, the Panthers had been devastated when they lost their final game of the season in the first round of the playoffs to Newton, falling 28-27 on a frigid night in West Jersey when the extra point on what could have been the tying touchdown late in the fourth quarter was blocked. This time, Hernandez-Torre, a senior who played soccer up until this year, stepped up and drilled a perfect kick to break a 34-34 tie. 

In the COVID-19 world, there are no state playoffs for New Jersey high school football in 2020. But a win over Rutherford, a former North Jersey Interscholastic Conference division rival who won state championships in 2017 and 2018 and who dominated Glen Rock for a decade up until last season, was sweet and satisfying, and a glorious way to go out.

While many teams, including Rutherford, were forced to cancel games during the season because of coronavirus shutdowns, Glen Rock managed to play a full schedule, and finished 6-2. The six wins are Glen Rock's most since 2015, when it reached the North Jersey, Section 1, Group 2 championship game at Met Life Stadium. 

Scherer, who took over as quarterback in the second game of the 2019 season, was the leader all year, and he again played the leading role in Friday’s game.

The 5-10, 175-pounder, who during the season was named The Record’s Football player of the 

 Week after the Week 4, Homecoming Night victory over Hawthorne, and followed that up by being named the newspaper’s Male Athlete of the Week after the Week 5 win over New Providence, ran for four touchdowns against Rutherford, including the one in overtime that tied the score and set up Hernandez-Torre’s game-winning PAT. Scherer also threw for a touchdown, and on defense, he made the critical play when he deflected away the pass on Rutherford’s two-point conversion attempt after the Bulldogs scored first in the overtime.

Glen Rock led, 21-12 after three quarters, but Rutherford scored on a one-yard run by 6-5 senior quarterback Evan Ward, and made the two-point conversion to pull within 21-20. The Bulldogs recovered a subsequent onside kick, but the Glen Rock defense stopped them, and the offense responded with a 90-yard touchdown drive – the big play being a 47-yard run by Andrew Sara – to take a 28-20 lead.

Rutherford (3-3) got the ball back on the ensuing kickoff with 2:45 to play and the ball at their own 40-yard line, and the Bulldogs managed to drive 60 yards for the tying touchdown, with Ward scoring again. Another two-point conversion tied the score, 28-28, with 1:03 left, but Glen Rock had two chances to win before the end of regulation. 

First, the Panthers had the ball at their own 32-yard line with 55.7 seconds left, but Glen Rock made only one first down before being forced to punt. Rutherford got the ball at their own 41-yard line with 3.7 seconds left, and the Bulldogs had one last play to try a Hail Mary pass. Senior defensive tackle Mark Tuttle hit Ward as the quarterback tried to throw the ball, and the ball fluttered and was intercepted by senior defensive end Ryan Burstiner, who had scored his first career touchdown in last week’s win over Garfield. Burstiner was tackled before he could return the ball to the end zone and the game went to overtime.

In the overtime, each team started with the ball at the 25-yard line, with one timeout. Rutherford went first, and on the 10thplay of the drive, scored a touchdown on a two-yard run by Ward. But the two-point conversion failed, when Ward’s jump pass off a fake run was batted down in the end zone by Scherer. Rutherford led, 34-28, when Glen Rock started its possession.

Runs of eight and four yards by Hayden Yuzon quickly put Glen Rock at the 13-yard line, and Scherer kept the ball on a fake handoff and ran around left end untouched for the tying touchdown. Rutherford was called for offside on Hernandez-Torre’s first attempt at the extra point, which could have unnerved the 5-7, 125-pound senior. But it didn’t. He had missed his first field goal attempt of the year during the game, but he was perfect on extra points in 2020 (31-for-31), and he made no mistake on this one.

Scherer finished the game with 42 yards rushing on 12 carries and four touchdowns, and completed 10 of 20 passes for 127 yards and a touchdown. Sara ran for 95 yards on 11 carries, and Yuzon had 80 yards on 14 carries. Mike McCarthy had six receptions for 95 yards and a touchdown, plus, on defense, he had a sack and two passes batted away. 

On the season, Scherer led the Panthers in rushing, with 600 yards on 99 carries, plus 13 touchdowns. Sara, a junior, was right behind him, with 575 yards on 95 rushes and six touchdowns. Scherer completed 56 of 115 passes (48.7 percent) for 812 yards, with 9 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. McCarthy, a junior, was the leading receiver, with 21 catches for 388 yards and 5 touchdowns. Senior Tommy Callahan had 15 catches for 249 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Ten seniors played their final game for Glen Rock: Scherer, Hernandez-Torre, Burstiner, Callahan, Tuttle, Angelo Piazza, Ed Males, Danny Crawford, Jack Strawhorn and Noah Teicher.


All Photos by: Angela Zito Crawford 


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