The Parsippany Hills Vikings breezed through their first three games of the season, outscoring their opponents 105-14, and when their first major test of the season came on the road at Roxbury, the Vikings found themselves in unfamiliar territory.
But after 48 minutes of a game that needed every just about ticking second, the Vikings were able to hold on to a 14-7 victory by shutting down a late offensive surge by the Gaels, maintaining their flawless record in the process.
For the first time all year the Vikings’ dynamic passing offense, led by senior Brandon Katzenberger, faced a serious obstacle in Roxbury’s secondary.
The Vikings’ only offensive touchdown of the night, a 16 yard touchdown pass from Katzenberger to senior Evan Smith proved to be the difference-maker against the Gaels who are still in the process of deciphering their offensive identity.
“Evan Smith came so clutch and we just needed that one play, and we came up on top,” Katzenberger said. “I give all the credit to the receivers.”
Katzenberger finished the night 17-29 passing for 175 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
Strong defensive play by both teams kept the game close until the end, with each team holding their opponent to only seven points on offense.
The scoring of the first half came late in the second quarter following a Katzenberger punt that pinned the Gaels at their own one-yard line. Parsippany Hills’ MLB Andrew Piccoli recorded the first of his two interceptions, picking off Roxbury’s Grant Dixon and returning the ball to the end zone for a touchdown.
In addition, OLB Michael Weiss recorded three of Parsippany Hills’ six total sacks on Dixon, two of them coming in the first half.
Following Katzenberger’s touchdown pass to make the score 14-0, Roxbury’s offense finally broke through and came to life when Dixon connected with Loreng on an 11 yard touchdown pass, topping off their first red zone possession of the night.
Roxbury then got the ball back on a perfectly executed onside kick by Peter Bartek that was recovered by a diving Justin Irwin.
In the end, however, the Vikings defense was too much for the Gaels to overcome.
A gutsy hook and lateral passing play from Dixon to Loreng to senior Shawn Leydon, was intercepted in another big play from Piccoli, sealing the game with his second interception.
Roxbury head coach Cosmo Lorusso noted his team’s drive to fight to the final whistle, but said that self-inflicted errors and penalties were costly in the end. The Gaels were flagged for six false start penalties in the game.
“We take it week by week, day by day, and we try to focus on tomorrow and not week 13 and the playoffs, so were gonna go in next week and get back to work,” Katzenberger said.
The Vikings will play at home against Morristown (2-2) next week, and then travel to Delbarton to take on the Green Wave (3-1).
Meanwhile, the Gaels are already preparing themselves for next week, hoping that their young team can slow down the Green Wave, a team the Gaels have not defeated since their championship season in 2009.
A positive for Roxbury going into the week is that senior LB Dillon Artigliere looked solid in plugging up gaps in the middle of the field in his season debut.
Katzenberger was sacked twice, once by DE Sean Cosgrove and once by Artigliere.
–Second Quarter—Craig Roumes intercepts Brandon Katzenberger’s pass and is downed immediately
–Second Quarter—Andrew Piccoli returns Grant Dixon’s pass for a touchdown (Brandon Katzenberger’s PAT is good) 7-0 Parsippany Hills
–Fourth Quarter—Brandon Katzenberger 16 yard touchdown pass to Evan Smith (Brandon Katzenberger’s PAT is good) 14-0 Parsippany Hills
–Fourth Quarter—Grant Dixon 11 yard touchdown pass to Stephen Loreng (Jack Clevenger’s PAT is good) 14-7 Parsippany Hills
–Fourth Quarter—Peter Bartek’s onside kick is recovered by Justin Irwin
–Fourth Quarter—Andrew Piccoli intercepts Grant Dixon to seal game