CLARK – Some teams, if they are fortunate enough, like to make a statement right away.
Especially in a game that features the visitors coming in at 5-1 and the host team undefeated at 5-0.
After receiving the opening kickoff visiting Somerville – literally – wasted no time in making it clear that the Pioneers were going to be a handful for the Johnson Crusaders to deal with.
It took Somerville, which came in averaging 42 points in its five wins and 36 points total, just two plays in 27 seconds to light up the scoreboard.
First came a 51-yard pass down the right sideline from senior quarterback Ryan Kovacs to junior tight end Joe Ciempola, followed by a 23-yard touchdown run up the middle by Robert Fiorentino, who initially behind the line of scrimmage eluded the grasp of a Johnson lineman.
Somerville scored another touchdown in the first quarter – capitalizing on the first of consecutive Johnson turnovers – and produced one more in the second en route to a convincing 33-7 victory Friday night at Nolan Field.
Somerville, the Mid-State 38 Conference’s outright Mountain Division champion for the second straight season, won for the second time in a row to improve to 6-1. The Pioneers presently lead the power point standings in Central Jersey, Group 3.
Johnson, the outright Valley Division champion for the first time, slipped to 5-1 and fell for the first time since falling at home to Rahway 34-33 last Thanksgiving. The Crusaders began the weekend third in the power points in Central Jersey, Group 2 behind 6-0 squads Point Pleasant Boro and South River.
Somerville dominated the first half and led 20-0 at intermission.
Johnson moved the ball into Somerville territory during its first drive, with senior quarterback Mike Bruno gaining 31 yards on a run up the middle to the Somerville 43.
The drive stalled at the Somerville 28 when Johnson lost a fumble that was recovered by Somerville junior outside linebacker Tyjir Williams. Bruno gained 42 yards on three carries and senior running back Joe Turek 11 on two during the possession.
Somerville went right back to work and with its spread offense marched from its own 25 all the way back into the Johnson end zone seven plays later. Kovacs began the drive by completing a six-yard pass on second down to sophomore wide receiver Kyree Hinton. Four plays later he hooked up with Hinton again for a 27-yard pass to the Johnson one-yard line.
From there junior Jalahn Dabney scored. Somerville ran in for two points to make it 14-0.
Kovacs completed four passes on the scoring drive – three to Hinton for 38 yards and one to Williams that went for another 38 in the middle of the march.
A three-yard run by Turek gave Johnson a first down on its own 43 before Hinton came up with an interception at the Johnson 40.
Although Somerville did not score on its next drive, which started at the Johnson 35, Kovacs managed to land a well-executed, first quarter-ending, 41-yard punt that rolled all the way down to the Crusader one-yard line when it was downed.
Somerville stopped Johnson on a three-and-out and then from the Johnson 40 used four plays to get into the end zone for the third time. On third-and-four from the Johnson 14, Kovacs hit Hinton over the middle for a 14-yard touchdown pass. Johnson halted the ensuing two-point run attempt to keep the score at 20-0.
Johnson, which came in averaging 34.6 points, finally got on the scoreboard in the third quarter when senior running back Brandon Rapp reached the end zone on a 40-yard run.
Somerville scored two more touchdowns in the second half, one each in the third and fourth quarters.
MID-STATE 38 CONFERENCE-NON-DIVISION
Somerville (6-1) 14 06 06 07 – 33
Johnson (5-1) 00 00 07 00 – 07
Somerville – Robert Fiorentino 23 run, pass failed (S 6-0)
2 plays, 74 yards, :27 used
Somerville – Jalahn Dabney 1 run, Robert Fiorentino run (S 14-0)
7 plays, 75 yards, 2:27 used
Somerville capitalized on a Johnson turnover – a fumble recovery by
outside linebacker Tyjir Williams.
Somerville – Kyree Hinton 14 pass from Ryan Kovacs, run failed
4 plays, 40 yards, 1:38 used
Johnson – Brandon Rapp 40 run, Mike Casalino kick (S 20-7)
Somerville – Jalahn Dabney 2 run, run failed (S 26-7)
Somerville – Ethan Hillman 9 pass from Jalahn Dabney,
Bobby Wortman kick (S 33-7)
FRIDAY NIGHT SCOREBOARD:
Ridge 37, Union 36 (OT) – at Union
Ridge improves to 3-4 and will move up in
North 2, Group 5 power point standings.
Union falls to 2-4. This is Union’s third straight
one-point loss, which might be a school record.
Elizabeth 50, Plainfield 0 – at Elizabeth
Watchung Hills 12, Linden 7 – at Linden
Westfield 23, Immaculata 6 – at Immaculata
Westfield’s state-best winning streak increases to 32.
Now 7-0, Westfield is Union County’s only undefeated team.
Rahway 64, Scotch Plains 24 – at Rahway River Park
Cranford 38, Gov. Livingston 0 – at Gov. Livingston
Cougars keep North 2, Group 3 playoff hopes alive.
Somerville 33, Johnson 7 – at Johnson
Bound Brook 41, Brearley 33 – at Brearley
SATURDAY AFTERNOON SCHEDULE:
North Plainfield at Summit, 1 p.m.
Roselle at Dayton, 1 p.m.
Delaware Valley at Hillside, 1 p.m.
Roselle Park at New Providence, 1 p.m.
MID-STATE 38 CONFERENCE
Delaware – Phillipsburg, outright
Mountain – Somerville, outright (2nd year in a row)
Raritan – North Hunterdon, outright
Union – not decided yet
Valley – Johnson, outright
Watchung – Westfield, outright (3rd year in a row)