Elmwood Park's Brandon Velez gets a first down during his team's 21-14 win over Hawthorne.

Hawthorne running back Dwayne Miele runs for daylight in his team's loss.

Elmwood Park survived a wild one against Hawthorne on Saturday and are aiming for its first league title in more than a quarter of a century.

The Crusaders defense stopped the Bears offense in the final seconds to secure a 21-14 victory at home in the North Jersey Interscholastic Conference (NJIC) Colonial division game. A win over Manchester this weekend would give Elmwood Park (6-1) at least a share of the NJIC Colonial high school division championship.

In a penalty-filled game Elmwood Park could not exhale until the final seconds when Randy Santos intercepted Tommy Walls as time ran out.

Elmwood Park head coach Steve Wisniewski said winning the league title is for all the previous Crusaders’ teams.

“We are winning this for all of them,” said Wisniewski. “I was talking to someone from the 1973 and 1975 teams that lost to Hawthorne in the state finals. This win was for them.”

As it turned out it was sophomore Sean Violante who made the play of the day. With Hawthorne punter Rick Grofsick deep in his territory, he kicked into the wind that took it back. With the ball rolling around Sorrento picked it up and ran in for a 16-yard punt return touchdown.

“Sean made a great play and he is only a 10th-grader,” said Wisniewski after the game. “We practice that play all the time in practice to scoop up the ball.”

Crusaders quarterback Michael Dare hit Brandon Velez on a touchdown pass and Christian Mendoza ran for another one to lead the Elmwood Park offense.

Hasbrouck Heights (7-0) gained at least a share of the NJIC Meadowlands title with a 28-7 win over Waldwick on Friday night. An Aviators win over Palisades Park on Friday would give them an outright title.

Saddle Brook (6-1) stayed a game behind Heights in the Meadowlands division with a 45-22 win over Queen of Peace on Friday night.

Lodi (4-3) kept its hopes alive for a state playoff berth with an easy 39-0 victory over Manchester in a NJIC Colonial division game.

Garfield (1-6) might have lost six games this season, but it has been competitive. The squad lost, 35-20, on Friday night to Lyndhurst.

While many in Wood-Ridge (1-6) will remember last Friday’s first night home game, they will try to forget the score, a 48-0 loss to Becton.

Fair Lawn (1-6) could not stay with Ridgewood, 38-0, while Wallington (1-6) could not stop Weehawken, 40-20, on Friday.

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