NORTH PLAINFIELD – Rahway last won a playoff game in 2013 and last captured one on the road in 2010.
The Indians will have the opportunity to end both of those streaks at the same time next weekend.
Rahway expects to play at Summit next Saturday in a first round North 2, Group 3 encounter.
Rahway hosted Summit last Friday night at Rahway River Park and – simply – did not get the job done. The Hilltoppers were the better team and came away with a decisive 34-14 Mid-State 38 Conference-non-division triumph.
“Summit is a very disciplined team, always good,” Rahway third-year head coach Brian Russo said. “We didn’t play our best game.
“We turned the ball over and we had a big penalty against us on our first drive of the second half. We haven’t committed a lot of penalties this year, but that one hurt us.”
Rahway bounced back Friday night in a commanding 35-12 fashion at Mountain Division foe North Plainfield. The Indians improved to 5-3 overall and finished fourth in the Mountain Division at 3-2. Rahway’s final regular season game will be at home against first-time Valley Division champion Johnson on Thanksgiving.
Summit (6-2) will wrap its regular season Saturday at home against repeat Mountain Division champion Somerville (7-1 overall).
Summit projects to be the fourth seed in North 2, Group 3 and Somerville the top seed in Central Jersey, Group 3.
“We will have to play a clean, efficient game against Summit if we’re to have a chance at beating them,” Russo said. “That and we’ll have to stop the run.”
Summit rushed for 260 yards and limited Rahway to just 70 when they clashed last weekend. Summit took a 13-0 lead in the first quarter and never trailed. Senior safety Luca Curran returned an interception 26 yards for the final Hilltopper touchdown, which put Summit in front 34-7 in the third quarter.
Junior running backs Max Jackson and Jackson Tyler were tough to bring down. Jackson rushed for 148 yards on 28 carries and Tyler 113 on 18.
Both of Rahway’s touchdowns came through the air, with junior running back Zion Pendleton throwing a 21-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Keyshawn Cummings and junior lefty-throwing quarterback Jakir Robinson completing a 21-yard TD pass to senior wide receiver Jerrish Halsey, which was the game’s final score. Jackson rushed for three scores and caught a touchdown pass thrown by junior signal-caller Skylar Schluter.
Pendleton carried the ball six times for 64 yards and two touchdowns in the first half of Rahway’s win over North Plainfield. He also came up with an interception that led to Rahway’s second score.
“Zion, hands down – for three years now – has been our hardest-working player,” Russo said. “He’s the heart beat of our team.”
Like last year when Rahway went up against Somerville in a first round Central Jersey, Group 3 contest after previously falling to the Pioneers in regular season Mountain Division play, the Indians expect to play a team in the playoffs that they previously were defeated by.
“We’re going to have to tackle better and execute our offense more,” Pendleton said. “We’ll have to learn from our mistakes if we want to finish our season strong.
“Summit is a good team. It will be a good game. I’m looking forward to it.”
Also in the first half against North Plainfield, Rahway junior running back Dashon Moore carried eight times for 92 yards and one score, while Robinson completed four-of-seven passes for 54 yards. Cummings caught two passes and Halsey and Moore one each.
Immediately after senior Rey Fowler returned a kickoff 70 yards for a touchdown for North Plainfield’s first points, Halsey took back the ensuing kickoff 70 yards for Rahway’s next six points.
Fowler also scored the game’s final touchdown on a 20-yard run with 1:48 remaining.
Each team had the ball just once in the third quarter, with North Plainfield coming away with no points after a drive that consumed the quarter’s final 8:41.
Rahway junior placekicker Jon Cardoza was a perfect 5-for-5 on extra point attempts and just a bit short on a 42-yard field goal try against the wind.
“I’ve got a great group of kids here,” Russo said. “The mentality is to get everyone on the same page, working toward the same goal.
“Next week will be a whole new ball game. It’s usually a matter of who shows up on any given day.”
MID-STATE 38 CONFERENCE-MOUNTAIN DIVISION
Rahway (5-3, 3-2) 14 14 07 00 – 35
North Plainfield (0-5, 0-8) 00 06 00 06 – 12
Rahway – Zion Pendleton 5 run, Jon Cardoza kick (R 7-0)
8 plays, 68 yards, 3:34 used
Rahway – Dashon Moore 19 run, Jon Cardoza kick (R 14-0)
3 plays, 32 yards, 1:17 used
Rahway capitalized on a turnover – an interception by Zion Pendleton.
Rahway – Zion Pendleton 2 run, Jon Cardoza kick (R 21-0)
4 plays, 41 yards, :54 used
Rahway successfully executed an onsides kick, with Samuel Dorielan
falling on the ball after it went 10 yards. That standout special teams
play led to this score.
North Plainfield – Rey Fowler 70 kickoff return, run failed (R 21-6)
Rahway – Jerrish Halsey 70 kickoff return, Jon Cardoza kick (R 28-6)
Rahway – Dashon Moore 3 run, Jon Cardoza kick (R 35-6)
6 plays, 52 yards, 3:19 used
North Plainfield – Rey Fowler 20 run, run failed (R 35-12)