SUMMIT – While it was No. 8 for Parsippany Hills – senior quarterback Tyler Simms – who was going to have to make things happen if his team was to advance in the state playoffs, it was the other No. 8 – senior receiver-cornerback Will Shamim – who did make things happen for Summit.
Shamim scored Summit’s first points on a big touchdown reception and then his two interceptions both led to other Hilltopper touchdowns as top-seeded Summit went on to post a convincing 30-13 victory over fourth-seeded Parsippany Hills in Saturday’s North 2, Group 3 semifinal at Tatlock Field.
Summit, off to an 11-0 start for the second straight season and for the third time in the last four years, will face third-seeded Palisades Park (9-2) in next Saturday’s 4 p.m. game at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford.
When Summit last played in Bergen County in December of 2009 in the old Giants Stadium, the Hilltoppers came back to beat Orange 28-19 to capture that season’s North 2, Group 2 crown.
The Hilltoppers – now 43-2 in their last 45 games – are in the North 2, Group 3 final for the first time since 1986 and will be seeking to win it for the third time and first time since 1980.
After Simms threw a short touchdown pass to Tyler Bartro to give Parsippany Hills (8-3) a quick 7-0 lead, Summit answered on its third possession.
On first-and-10 from its own 38, senior quarterback Mike Badgley rolled a bit right and found Shamim completely wide open down field. Shamim, who was at least 15 yards behind any Parsippany Hills defensive player, actually had to come back a bit to catch Badgley’s pass before he raced into the end zone with it to tie the game at 6-6.
Badgley’s ensuing extra point gave Summit the lead for good at 7-6.
“They were reading (running back) Kyre (Negron) so we ran the pass off that way,” said Shamim. “Mike made a perfect throw. We knew we could beat them with that play.”
“They tried to double cover Kyree, so we went with our play action pass,” Summit head coach John Liberato said. “Mike has improved each week at quarterback.”
“We were upset that they scored on us, we try to shut out our opponents,” said Badgley, who rushed for two TDs, threw two touchdown passes and also kicked three extra points and one field goal. “That got us going.”
Summit’s second touchdown and the only score of the second quarter was a 25-yard touchdown run by Badgley that was set up by a fumble recovery by Summit linebacker Nick Liberato after the ball slipped out of Simms’ hands.
Shamim’s first of two second-half interceptions – coming on the second play of the third quarter – was huge as he dove to catch the ball against Parsippany Hills receiver Brandon Katzenberger. It gave Summit a first down at the Parsippany Hills 15.
Badgley scored from two yards out three plays later.
“There, I just tried to stay on his (the receiver’s) hip pocket,” Shamim said. “We talked about winning the turnover battle.”
“With our secondary, they did their homework,” Liberato said. “They take what you give them. The kids understand the scheme.”
Shamim’s second interception set up what might be remembered as one of the legendary Summit playoff touchdowns. On second-and-23 from his own 25, Badgley rolled right and managed to flip the ball to senior running back AJ Iarussi near the right sideline, who caught a short pass just beyond the 30-yard line.
Iarussi then zig-zagged his way through a host of bodies in the middle of the field only to come out of the pack and find the right sideline wide open for what turned out to be a 75-yard touchdown pass.
“That was all regional,” Badgley said. “I was able to dump it to AJ and he made a great run.”
Also standing out defensively for Summit was senior Connor O’Malley. Parsippany Hills had no answer for the 6-4, 250-pound lineman, who had two tackles for losses in the first half and was involved in one quarterback sack in the second.
“I was so fired up to get off the line for this game,” O’Malley said. “We prepared for everything, with the coaches calling blue for pass and green for run.”
“Connor played championship style football today,” Liberato said. “They couldn’t handle him. Our defensive front did a nice job of trapping and clogging up the middle.”
Exactly a year ago Saturday – Dec. 1, 2011 – Summit lost to Madison 47-7 in the North 2, Group 2 final at Kean.
“This was redemption,” Shamim said. “We worked hard to get another shot.”
That will come against an unfamiliar opponent in Bergen County’s Palisades Park.
“We’ll need to go to the film and continue to practice hard,” Badgley said. “Last year is still in the back of our mind and motivates us.”
NOTES: Simms completed 23-of-43 passes for 266 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He was 7-of-13 for 83 yards and one touchdown in the first half and 16-of-30 for 183 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in the second.
His favorite receiver – senior Kire Milevski – caught 10 passes, including four for 73 yards in the first half and one of his six in the second for a one-yard touchdown.
Iarussi, who will continue playing at Colgate, carried 20 times for 82 yards.
O’Malley combined with junior lineman Mac Wiesner on a sack in the second half, while senior lineman Andrew Oristanio had 1.5 sacks, including one shared with junior linebacker Colm Dougherty in the first half and a solo one in the second.
Parsippany Hills senior running back Carmine Verduccci carried the ball 21 times for 77 yards.
The Vikings, who lost to Cranford 27-0 in last year’s final, won eight games for the second straight season. Parsippany Hills finished 8-4 a year ago.
Summit has Union County’s longest winning streak at 11 games and will attempt to become the first school from Union County to finish 12-0 a second time. The only ones to do so are Brearley in 2006 and Summit in 2009.
Elizabeth (10-0) was deprived of that opportunity this season when Hurricane Sandy wiped out its non-division game at Plainfield.
Summit has now won sectional semifinal games at home three of the last four seasons. Here’s a look at the scores:
SUMMIT AT HOME IN SECTIONAL SEMIFINALS
2012: Summit 30, Parsippany Hills 13 – North 2, Group 3
2011: Summit 34, Caldwell 20 – North 2, Group 2
2009: Summit 23, Madison 14 – North 2, Group 2
NORTH JERSEY, SECTION 2, GROUP 3 SEMIFINAL
AT TATLOCK FIELD
4-PARSIPPANY HILLS (8-3) 6 0 0 7 – 13
1-SUMMIT (11-0) 7 7 13 3 – 30
PARSIPPANY HILLS – Tyler Bartro 7 pass from Tyler Simms, kick failed (PH 6-0)
8 plays, 69 yards. 3:32 used
SUMMIT – Will Shamim 62 pass from Mike Badgley, Mike Badgley kick
4 plays, 93 yards, :55 used
SUMMIT – Mike Badgley 25 run, Mike Badgley kick (S 14-6)
9 plays, 63 yards, 2:27 used
Summit capitalized on a turnover – a Nick Liberato fumble recovery.
SUMMIT – Mike Badgley 2 run, Mike Badgley kick (S 21-6)
4 plays, 15 yards, :59 used
Summit capitalized on a turnover – a Will Shamim interception.
SUMMIT – AJ Iarussi 75 pass from Mike Badgley, kick failed (S 27-6)
3 plays, 62 yards, :56 used
Summit capitalized on a turnover – a Will Shamim interception.
SUMMIT – FG Mike Badgley 27 (S 30-6)
13 plays, from own 27 to Parsippany Hills 20, 1:58 used
PARSIPPANY HILLS – Kire Milevski 1 pass from Tyler Simms,
Brandon Katzenberger kick (S 30-13)
17 plays, 77 yards, 5:07 used