EAST ORANGE, NJ – The East Orange Campus High School football team earned a 52-12 victory over Bloomfield on Saturday afternoon, September 24 at Paul Robeson Stadium. It was the first win of the season for the Jaguars, who improved to 1-3.
The East Orange campus Jaguars had an agenda this week when a surging Bloomfield Bengals team came calling for their annual big cat fight. East Orange, after losing three games in a row, arrived intent on entering the win column with anything and everything in their arsenal. Bloomfield was riding a wave of luck after losing their first two games, to Nutley and West Orange, in blowouts, but bounced back to take out Livingston in an old-fashioned shootout, giving their head coach Mike Carter his 135th victory .
East Orange, led by senior receiving duo Joshua Richards and BJ Covington, along with junior quarterback Kyree Fisher and senior lineman Elijah Pullins, clouded Bloomfield’s day during the game.
Bloomfield, led by double quarterbacks Joey Jones and Trevor Frantantoni, along with hard-nosed running back Jayden Evans, found the end zone first after trading fumbles in the opening seconds of the game. The Jags pounced on the game-opening kickoff on an inbounds kick, but the Bengals immediately snatched the ball away on the first play from scrimmage. With this opportunity, Bloomfield has taken full advantage of it. Frantantoni found wide receiver Nathaniel Brown on a play of third-and-nine, throwing a 47-yard fingertip catch into the breadbasket for the game’s first score. It was just the first punch, or so we thought, as East Orange counter-punched with their own immediate response.
From their own 35-yard line, the Jags found a few cracks in the Bengals defense early. They sent running back Irijah Wright into the teeth of the Bengals defense early and often. The Jaguars took control of the ball, going for 65 yards in seven plays, culminating in a screen pass from Fisher to Wright which Wright immediately hopped onto the freeway for a 46-yard touchdown with 3:17 left in the first quarter.
Once again the Bengals threw another punch into the end zone. With the help of key penalties, a big run from Evans and a big pass from Jones to wide receiver James Fields, putting Bloomfield within striking distance on the East Orange 25-yard line, Frantantoni dropped an absolute dime on Brown for a 25-yard drive, giving Bloomfield the provisional lead at 12-6. But the Jaguars backlash was just as quick as the first. First, there was the issue of a punt, which put the ball back in the Bengals’ hands, but that wasn’t what created their response. It was the fact that the Jaguar defense pulled off a key sack from defensive end Kymanie Deacon that forced Bloomfield to earn their second touchdown. Recovering the ball with just 3:18 left in the half, East Orange proceeded to move the ball 60 yards in four plays, when the East Orange quarterback fired three straight strikes at Richards and Covington, Richards hooking a juggling ball in the air while trailing two Bloomfield defenders home, tying the game at 12-12 before halftime.
On the other side of the half, the Jaguars were all business as they received the kickoff to start the third quarter. Fisher and Richards were clear on what they were looking to do when they hung on for a 55-yard bomb with just 11:43 left in the third quarter, East Orange taking the lead for the first time in the game, 20- 12, after converting to 2 points. The Jags would continue to score at will as Fisher connected with Richards on a 10-yard dart for the 26-12 stretch. Wright, who finished with 151 yards on nine carries and two touchdowns as well as his two receptions for 52 yards and a score, would face Bloomfield’s defense head-on down the middle, leaving a sea of Bengals in his wake for an 11-touchdown from yards with 4:19 left in the third quarter and a 34-12 lead.
East Orange found its roar by keeping the pressure on Bloomfield in the fourth quarter. Deacon picked up his second sack of the day, giving his offense another chance in the end zone. Fisher took another big hit, finding wide receiver Michael Henderson for a 45-yard reception, setting up a silent 2-yard punch by Wright to put the game out of reach at 40-12. That’s when the Jags defense decided to have fun scoring. From his defensive back position, Richards peddled a Frantantoni pass aimed at his favorite target, Brown, picking the ball up in the air as if taking a defensive rebound off the backboard of the basketball court. While managing to stay in bounds, Richards returned the ball for 58 yards – and it was 46-12. But the final highlight was when Bloomfield took possession of the ball on his own 31-yard line after kick-off. Jones mishandled the snap as Jaguar’s front line crashed into him. In the middle of that was Deacon, who collected the offered ball and rumbled for the final score of 52-12.
“We were hoping for things to go well,” Carter said after the game. “We were looking to keep our momentum going, but East Orange’s size and speed wore us down.” He went on to say that East Orange shifted gears and were too physical in the second half, which made the game more difficult for the Bengals.
Overall, Jaguars head coach John Jacob agreed with the outcome of the game, then telling his team not to celebrate the result but to celebrate the production and performance. He said his team is growing and becoming more comfortable as they begin to have their own identity apart from previous teams.
East Orange will claim this win and begin the difficult task of preparing for the next game as they head down the road to visit vaunted rival Montclair at Woodman Field on Saturday October 1 for a 13-man kick-off. hours. East Orange will remain on the road to play West Orange in the Battle of the Oranges on October 7 before returning home on October 15 to meet Passaic County Tech for the homecoming. Bloomfield will host the Dickinson Bulldogs of Jersey City at Foley Field on Friday, September 30, before hitting the road for two weeks to face Columbia and Barringer, then close out the regular season with Belleville.
Photos courtesy of Kerry E. Porter.