The Game At A Glance: Old Tappan took advantage of Wayne Hills turnovers and mistakes to win, 35-0, and played much of the second half on a running clock.
First Half Highlights: It appeared Wayne Hills had a good opportunity on its own 45 after stopping Old Tappan on fourth down three minutes into the game. That opportunity was short-lived when they fumbled on their first play and Sal DeBenedetto scooped it up for Old Tappan, taking it down to the four-yard line. Marquez Antinori scored on the following play to put the Golden Knights in front. Old Tappan extended the lead on their next possession when Antinori scored from a yard out. The Golden Knights’ previous two plays set up the score when Nick McNerney found Antinori for 41 yards and then kept it himself for 26 yards to the one.
Wayne Hills took possession early in the second quarter and kept it for 7:15, but had nothing to show for it. With fourth-and-four from the 17, their pass into the end zone was broken up by Bryan Baker. After Old Tappan punted, DeBenedetto intercepted a pass that was tipped by Dan Vitellaro and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown. Old Tappan needed only one play on their next possession when McNerney found Aidan Bilali on the right sideline, where he spun around a Wayne Hills defender and went all the way for a 59-yard score for a 28-0 halftime lead.
Second Half Highlights: DeBenedetto struck again on the half’s first drive, when he intercepted an underthrown pass for on the 18 and returned it to the 50. Four plays later, McNerney found John Lohrer over the middle for a 24-yard touchdown. At that point, the game was played on a running clock. Wayne Hills drove and had a first-and-goal from the 3, but turned it over on downs when Bilali intercepted in the end zone on fourth down.
Play of the Game: DeBenedetto’s first interception that was returned for a score and put the Golden Knights up 21-0.
Game Balls: DeBenedetto for his two interceptions and a fumble recovery - the fumble recovery set up their first score, his first interception was returned for a touchdown, and his second put the team in good field position.
McNerney threw only seven passes, but completed all of them for 148 yards and two touchdowns.
Bilali caught two for 69 yards and a score, plus his interception in the end zone preserved a shutout, while Baker’s pass break up in the end zone on fourth down gave his team the ball and his name was heard often on the PA system.
Old Tappan head coach Brian Dunn - “Sal DeBenedetto made the plays on defense and I liked the way our defensive line got a good push and made their quarterback uncomfortable. Turnovers were key and we were set up with good field position. Joe Klaus does a great job as the defensive coordinator and I give a lot of credit to all of the coaches.”
Old Tappan WR/DB Sal DeBenedetto - “Our defensive line did a great job pushing the pocket. They put us in position to make the plays. The first two turnovers, I just ran to the ball and took off once I got it. The third one, the pass was underthrown and I stepped in front of it. We are on a mission to win a state title; we think about it every day.”