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(Hackettstown attention to detail in this photo from preseason practice paid dividends in the Tigers first game win.)

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Oak Ridge, NJ – It was a defensive battle that pitted two Morris-Sussex preseason favorites against each other as the Jefferson Falcons hosted the Hackettstown Tigers. Hackettstown edged the Falcons by a score of 7-3 in a game where both defenses playing tough.

The entire first half was very slow as neither team could get much going offensively. After a myriad of punts by both teams and a few Jefferson turnovers, the score was 0-0 at the half.

The Jefferson Falcons came out the second half ready to play, and drove the ball into the 10-yard line following a long completion from junior quarterback Matthew Johnson (11-22-176-0) to junior receiver David Hanna. A few plays later, senior Joe Battelli cut to the outside for a touchdown run, however that was called back so the  Falcons’ Matt Johnson would kick a 31-yard field goal to put Jefferson up 3-0.

The Tigers would answer quickly with a long drive of their own. But the Falons D was able to keep them out of the endzone after a 4th down stop at the goal line. But later in the 4th quarter the Tigers capitalized from the 5-yard line with a rushing touchdown by senior back Matt Castro (20-132-1) to put the Tigers in front 7-3.

Late in the 4th quarter, the Falcons D came up big again forcing a Hackettstown punt. That gave their offense the ball on the 5-yard line with two minutes left on the clock and one last chance to score. Jefferson marched right down the field on a few long Matt Johnson passes. With 40 seconds on the clock, the Falcons were in striking distance at the 25-yard line. However, the Tigers would put a stop to the drive, forcing a turnover on downs and secured their first victory of the season with a final of 7-3.

“We have a lot of confidence in our defense, especially our defensive coordinator, he did an excellent job all week. Tim Ervey and Zach Jastrzebski did really well quarterbacking our defense and helping us come out with the win”, Hackettstown coach CJ Robinson said after the game. “Our guys really played together and believed in each other, which was really cool to see. [Jefferson] is a very good football game and so I’m proud of the kids showing toughness mentally and physically throughout this game.” The Tigers face off against Lenape Valley next Friday and Jefferson heads to High Point looking to get back on track.

Box Score

Hackettstown 0 0 0 7 7
Jefferson 0 0 3 0 3

3rd: Jefferson: FG Matthew Johnson 32
4th: Hackettstown: Matt Castro 5 run (Denis Bishtriku kick)

Johnny Knox is an intern at Morris Sussex Sports specializing in sports journalism. He's also a junior at Jefferson HS where he is also a varsity baseball player.

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