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West Morris Central Defeats Roxbury in Clash of Defending State Champs

In Week 2 against Morristown, the Roxbury Gaels fought their way past their offensive woes that came in the form of five turnovers, and ultimately defeated the Colonials 13-10 in overtime. Meanwhile, the West Morris Central Wolfpack were hungry to get their season back on track after suffering a 21-7 loss to the dangerous Randolph Rams in their previous outing.

While neither team turned the ball over in a slippery affair, West Morris Central’s running game and quick defense proved to be too much for a young Roxbury Gaels team to overcome. 

Junior Connor Thompson and senior Javier Murray combined for over 200 rushing yards, leading the way for the Wolfpack in a 21-10 home victory against the Gaels in a battle of defending state champions.

Thompson finished the game with 15 carries for 170 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

Scoring Drive Summary

Roxbury’s Nicholas Snow (30) and Brian Kuhn (79) block for sophomore QB Grant Dixon as he rolls out to his right.

Roxbury’s Nicholas Snow (30) and Brian Kuhn (79) block for sophomore QB Grant Dixon as he rolls out to his right.

First Half
After West Morris Central went three-and-out on their opening possession, Roxbury began a long drive from in their own territory. The Gaels’ longest drive of the night was stalled out by one holding and three illegal movement penalties, forcing the Gaels to settle for a 38 yard field goal by sophomore kicker Jack Clevenger.
Drive notes:
-QB Grant Dixon – 4/5 passing; 32 yards
-WR Justin Irwin – Three receptions; 27 yards
-K Jack Clevenger – 38 yard field goal (1)
Roxbury – 3
West Morris Central – 0

Throughout the game, West Morris Central was able to take advantage of mistakes made by the inexperienced Roxbury defense, most notably on the Wolfpack’s second possession of the game, where fullback Connor Thompson broke through a hole in Roxbury’s secondary for a 71 yard touchdown run. The Wolfpack converted on multiple third and fourth down conversions on the drive, making use of effective offensive line play that would later tire out the Gaels’ defense in the second half.
(Late first Quarter
Drive notes:
-FB Connor Thompson – 71 yard touchdown run (1) 
-K Thomas Stoll’s PAT is good
West Morris Central – 7
Roxbury – 3
(Early second Quarter)

Thompson broke off another huge gain for 55 yards at the end of the half, but the Gaels were able to make a stand deep in their own red-zone, partially due to two holding penalties against West Morris Central, one inside the five yard line.

West Morris Central – 7
Roxbury – 3
(Halftime)

West Morris Central’s Alex Hughes (64) rounds the edge, but is too late to block sophomore K Jack Clevenger’s 38 yard field goal.

West Morris Central’s Alex Hughes (64) rounds the edge, but is too late to block sophomore K Jack Clevenger’s 38 yard field goal.

Second Half
On Roxbury’s opening possession of the second half, sophomore QB Grant Dixon completed a 42 yard strike to sophomore WR Stephen Loreng, who was tackled immediately after catching the lob pass in stride. Two plays later, Dixon found senior Joe Maugeri for a four yard touchdown pass in the corner of the end zone, a connection that was similar to the Gaels’ overtime game winner one week ago against Morristown.
Drive notes:
-QB Grant Dixon – 2/2 passing; 46 yards; Four yard touchdown pass (2)
-TE Joe Maugeri – One reception; Four yards; Touchdown reception (2)
-WR Stephen Loreng – One reception; 42 yards
-K Jack Clevenger’s PAT is good.

**Loreng’s 42 yard reception is Roxbury’s second passing play of over 40 yards on the season, the other being a 60+ yard pass against Vernon that was also caught by Loreng. The Gaels had no completions for over 40 yards in their 2012 championship season.
Roxbury – 10
West Morris Central – 7
(Third quarter)

West Morris Central put together a long drive towards the end of the third quarter that was capped off with a 25 yard run by senior running back Javier Murray. Murray got the ball off of his left tackle and took off down the sidelines giving the lead back to the Wolfpack.
Drive notes:
-RB Javier Murray – 25 yard touchdown run (3)
-K Thomas Stoll’s PAT is good
West Morris Central – 14
Roxbury – 10
(Late third quarter)

The power running game of West Morris Central proved to be too much for the Gaels to overcome in the fourth quarter, oftentimes by only a few yards. Roxbury’s defense was able to hold Thompson and Murray to short gains on first and second down, but the Wolfpack were consistently able to pound the ball forward to extend their clock-consuming drives.

A wide open Ryan Pruss grabbed a four yard touchdown pass from junior QB Collin Sokolowski to extend the Wolfpack’s lead to 11, putting the opportunity for a third consecutive fourth quarter/overtime winning drive by Dixon and the Gaels out of reach. The pass was Sokolowski’s first touchdown pass of the season after a 35 yard touchdown pass to Thompson was negated as a result of a holding penalty in the final seconds of the second quarter.
Drive summary:
-QB Collin Sokolowski – Four yard touchdown pass (1)
-Ryan Pruss – Four yard touchdown reception (1) 
-K Thomas Stoll’s PAT is good
West Morris Central – 21
Roxbury – 10
(Fourth Quarter)

Dixon and the Gaels could not manage put together a steady drive after their only touchdown possession of the game back in the opening minutes of the second half. The Gaels turned the ball over on downs twice on their final two possessions, and a Sokolowski kneel with less than thirty seconds remaining ended the game.

Final Score
West Morris Central – 21
Roxbury – 10

The West Morris Central Wolfpack improved to (2-1) with the win, and continue to demonstrate their thirst for a second consecutive state championship. The Wolfpack will take on the Morristown Colonials in Morristown on Saturday.

The Roxbury Gaels fall to (2-1) with the loss, ending their conference-long winning streak at nine games, dating back to last season. The Gaels are entering the most difficult stretch of their schedule, and will play their next two games at home against two offensive juggernauts in the Parsippany Hills Vikings (3-0; 35.0 PPG) and the Delbarton Green Wave (2-1; 29.3 PPG).

In 2012, Roxbury defeated Parsippany Hills on the road by a score of 14-7, but were blown out by the Green Wave 42-7 in Delbarton.

Anthony Chiodo watches as Roxbury senior WR Justin Irwin (white) maintains possession of the ball after being flattened by Robert Eichelsdoerfer (3).

Roxbury’s Craig Roumes lunges forward to finish his hit on West Morris Central’s Connor Thompson (Blue).

Justin Irwin secures another catch along the sidelines as he is taken to the ground by a Wolfpack defender.
Roxbury’s Nicholas Snow (30) and Brian Kuhn (79) block for sophomore QB Grant Dixon as he rolls out to his right.

West Morris Central’s Alex Hughes (64) rounds the edge, but is too late to block sophomore K Jack Clevenger’s 38 yard field goal.

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