by Eric Shor
Strong defense, a little bit of special teams, and a whole lot of Eugene Rawles was the recipe for the football team’s 21–14 victory over Elizabeth last Thursday.
The game started slowly with both defenses dominating the line of scrimmage.
However, on WHS’ second drive, senior quarterback Chris Hogge connected with junior wide receiver Sean Elliott twice to move the chains deep into Elizabeth territory. The drive was ultimately capped by a one-yard touchdown run from senior running back Eugene Rawles.
“Elizabeth did a nice job of shutting down the screen game, but the middle of the field was open to throw pretty much all game,” Hogge said.The WHS offense took note and began feeding Rawles the ball up the middle. By the end of the game Rawles tallied 201 rushing yards on 31 carries. According to Rawles, the offensive line and wide receivers did a great job creating lanes.
Head Coach James DeSarno said he was very pleased with Rawles’ performance, adding that he “ran hard and he had good blocking up front.”
The WHS defense came up big after a turnover on downs gave the ball to Elizabeth at their own 47-yard line. Senior Quad-Captain Chris Sweeney chased Elizabeth’s quarterback from behind, forcing a fumble; senior Thomas Anderson scooped it up and returned it 35 yards for a score to give WHS a 14–0 lead.
Despite the momentum swing, Elizabeth countered with a 63-yard touchdown run just before the end of the second quarter to slice the deficit in half.
The start of the second half mirrored the first as both defenses stood their ground. Midway through the third quarter, Elizabeth caught a break as a WHS defender slipped in coverage, allowing Orlando Menias to spring free for a 78-yard touchdown.
However, led by Rawles, the WHS offense responded with a seven minute drive capped by a five-yard touchdown pass from Hogge to Elliott.
Late in the game, the WHS defense was called upon to preserve the lead.“
After going 2–8 last year, I wasn’t sure they knew how to win a game like this. They okayed through all the highs and lows and got the job done,” said DeSarno.WHS will host Hillsborough tomorrow at Kehler Stadium.