Friday night the hard-nosed Hopatcong Chiefs traveled to Butler in hopes of keeping their dreams alive. Butler came into the game on a high note, as their season has gone well, while Hopatcong played for their playoff lives with a fight to the bitter end.
Hopatcong defers the opening kickoff as they always do, and Butler comes out aggressively on offense. The drive ends in a 3-and-out after senior Bobby Juliano deflects the pass.
There still are some questions for the Hopatcong offense. Will they go to the air and open it up like they did last week? How will new QB Yarosz find his groove?
The first drive ends the same way it did last week for the Chiefs: with a touchdown. The big pass on the first drive is a 3rd-down hook to Giordano where he jukes out the defense and picks up 25 yards. The drive’s final play is a 35-yard tackle trap by Bobby Juliano as he takes it through the defense, and breaks it to the outside for a touchdown. Hopatcong is up 7-0.
Butler strikes back. On the first play of the drive, Butler QB Dominic Gentile hits receiver Dan Castiglia as he runs past the defense for a 57-yard bomb. The PAT is blocked by Mike Maddaluna as the Chiefs maintain a 1-point lead, 7-6.
Hopatcong comes right back. Senior Jake Dorman runs buck sweep like a pro, and picks up 17 yards in the process. The other Jake–Jake Wilkerson–decides it’s his turn to pick up a few yards. He gains 15 yards on belly simply because it is impossible to tackle the kid. Just when you expect the run, Hopatcong goes over the top to hit Vince Giordano deep over the middle for a 35-yard score. The PAT has a bad snap, so Hopatcong leads 13-6.
Hopatcong has seen early leads as pivotal to their success, let’s see how it unfolds for the green and white this week.
Hopatcong stops Butler once the Bulldogs take the ball, and Hopatcong can make a statement by scoring their third touchdown of the first quarter. However, Dylan Brancaccio leaps into the air. And Hopatcong is intercepted.
The first quarter winds to a close as Giordano deflects a Butler pass on third down. Butler punts the Chiefs back deep in their territory.
The playmaker in Giordano finds another way to get past defenders, but it is more like he gets over defenders. He catches the pass, begins to run, and avoiding a diving defender, Giordano jumps over him. This player never stops amazing Chiefnation. After this sensational play, however, the drive cannot find a way to more points.
Butler capitalizes right away. After Jake Dorman sniffs out a screen pass, Castiglia catches another screen pass to pick up 10. Castiglia demands the ball again as he runs a deep slant in the end zone to help tie the game at 13.
Hopatcong stalls on offense. A 3-and-out gives the ball back to the Bulldogs. Freshman stud Sean Centinaro is quick on the attack for Butler. He carries the ball for 29 as he finds a cut-back lane, before being pushed out. The drive seems to stop as juniors Brian Russel and Joseph Walthour hit the Bulldogs with a TFL. However, Butler cannot be denied as Brancaccio gains 20 yards over the middle with another reception, only to be punched in by Centinaro for another score. Butler leads 20-13 going into the half.
The Chiefs do not give up. Right out of the half, Yarosz hits senior Dylon Frazier for 15 yards up the seam. After the pass play, Hopatcong doesn’t get anything to work as the defense shuts them down. Butler takes the ball again with a chance to create even more separation.
The Chiefs D shuts down the Bulldogs. Then, Bulldog’s defense shuts down the Chiefs on 4th-and-short. When Hopatcong finally gets the ball back, the offense seems to be working. Kyle Dixon catches a pass over the middle for 17. Then Dan Castiglia soars into the air to intercept another pass.
But just when things are going bad for the Chiefs, they get worse. Dan Castiglia simply tears apart Hopatcong as he catches another deep touchdown. The catch this time goes for 52 yards as he runs down the sideline. 27-13 Bulldogs, as the third quarter comes to a close.
The fourth quarter starts with a promising Hopatcong drive. Wilkerson racks up nearly 40 yards, and Dylon Frazier catches a 31-yard fade, setting Hopatcong up on the goal line. The Chiefs just can’t punch it in though. On fourth-and-goal the Chiefs find no way to connect, and Butler takes over. This time, Butler goes in for the final kill. The Bulldogs mix up pass and run as they drive down the field one last time. Centinaro runs in one more touchdown.
Butler pulls out the 34-13 victory.
Butler has had an extremely strong season. The Chiefs must win their remaining games to have a chance at making the playoffs. Next week, the Chiefs host Morristown Beard in the regular-season home finale.
Hopatcong 13 0 0 0 13
Butler 6 14 7 7 34
1st: Hopatcong: Robert Juliano 35 run (Mauro Fernandez kick)
1st: Butler: Dan Castiglia 57 pass from Dominic Gentile (kick blocked)
1st: Hopatcong: Vincent Giordano 35 pass from Bart Yarosz (run failed)
2nd: Butler: Dan Castiglia 8 pass from Dominic Gentile (Declan Minogue kick)
2nd: Butler: Sean Centinaro 15 run (Declan Minogue kick)
3rd: Butler: Dan Castiglia 52 pass from Dominic Gentile (Declan Minogue kick)
4th: Butler: Dan Castiglia 4 run (Declan Minogue kick)