But that only made the Bulldogs’ drama-packed, 28-27 NJIC Colonial Division win over Elmwood Park all the more gratifying.
“It’s such a relief,” Rutherford coach Andy Howell said. “You have no idea. It was a very tough physical battle for 48 minutes, a lot of tension, a lot of ups and downs. Let’s put it this way, I’m in a totally different mood right now if we drop a game like that.”
Howell was in a good mood Saturday night because JJ Watts caught a 12-yard pass midway through the fourth quarter from quarterback Jim Hadraza to give Rutherford its 28-27 lead. The defense stopped Elmwood Park twice in the final minutes — including stopping one final play just short of the goal line to get the win.
The Bulldogs answered with the only touchdown of the fourth quarter, and their defense bent but did not break. Rutherford (2-2) had done just enough to get the win over previously undefeated Elmwood Park (3-1).
“We were in trouble,” Howell said. “But we kept our composure.”
PARK RIDGE 40, WALLINGTON 14 (at Park Ridge): Jason Smith starred as the Owls snapped an 11-game losing streak with a Patriot Division victory.
Smith carried 20 times for 141 yards and four touchdowns, including two in the first quarter as Park Ridge opened a 21-0 lead. Vincent Pagano caught four passes for 54 yards and a touchdown.
Palombit threw his TD passes to four different receivers as Emerson rallied from a 14-0 deficit. Ryan Hennessey threw two touchdown passes to Stephan Barrett for the Blue Devils.