Elizabeth football bounces back to top Westfield for first time since 2012; Minutemen gain share of Watchung Division title with Union and Linden

First Elizabeth shutout win against Westfield since 2001; Senior RB Wactor scores game's only points on 2 TD runs

PHOTOS BY JR PARACHINI – Elizabeth, on offense at left, defeated Westfield for the first time since 2012 and also shut out the Blue Devils for the first time since 2001. Senior running back Javon Wactor (No. 7) scored the game’s only two touchdowns.

WESTFIELD – Heading into Saturday’s key Mid-State Conference-Watchung Division clash at Westfield the Elizabeth Minutemen wanted to prove that losing to a winless Franklin team the week before was the exception.
They wanted to play Westfield more like the only team that has been able to defeat fellow Watchung Division rival Union (7-1) so far.
While Elizabeth did not play its best game, the Minutemen provided enough moments offensively to back up their second road shutout.
Behind two touchdowns from senior running back Javon Wactor and a defensive effort that bottled up Westfield in the middle of the field for the most part, Elizabeth went on to produce a 12-0 triumph in Saturday’s clash at Gary Kehler Stadium.
As a result, Elizabeth (5-2) ended up gaining a share of the Watchung Division championship with Union and Linden, all three finishing 4-1 in league play. Union came back late to defeat Linden 14-7 in single overtime at home in Week Zero, Elizabeth then won at Union 28-14 in Week One and then Linden won at Elizabeth 14-3 in Week Two.
Westfield lost for the fourth straight time to fall to 2-5. The Blue Devils were shut out at home and also shut out for the first time since falling to Franklin 35-0 on Oct. 13, 2012. That was Westfield’s last season under .500, with the Blue Devils finishing 2-8 that year.
This was the first time Elizabeth defeated Westfield since opening its 2012 campaign with a 45-6 win at home at Williams Field.
This was the first time Elizabeth won at Westfield since the 2008 season, a 28-26 triumph at Gary Kehler Stadium. Elizabeth hosted Westfield three straight years from 2010-2012.
Elizabeth snapped a four-game losing streak against Westfield, including two 13-6 decisions last year – the first at Rutgers in the regular season and the second at Westfield in the North 2, Group 5 semifinals – by the score of 13-7 at Elizabeth in 2016 and at Westfield 21-14 in 2013. The teams did not play each other in 2015 and 2016.
Wactor scored on a one-yard run in the second quarter to give Elizabeth the lead for good. The extra point kick was blocked.
Elizabeth then got to the Westfield 47 and on the final play of the first half a Hail Mary pass went incomplete in the Westfield end zone.
After a 3-and-out and then holding Westfield to the same to start the second half, Elizabeth took over at its own 22 and moved the ball quite effectively.
Wactor gained six yards up the middle and then five more the same way. A four-yard gain by Wactor was followed by a six-yard screen pass from senior quarterback Clarence Wilkins to senior wide receiver Jesiah West. Wactor followed with an eight-yard run.
After an Elizabeth holding penalty and two incomplete passes, Wilkins completed a pass on the left side for 12 yards to junior wide receiver Rashon Lawrence.
Now with a first-and-10 at the Westfield 38, Wactor was stopped for no gain. Wactor more than made up for that on second down. He quickly burst through a hole in the middle of the line and then raced – untouched – to the end zone for what turned out to be the game’s final points. Elizabeth went for two, but its pass went incomplete.
It was more of the same defensively for the Minutemen in the fourth quarter as they went on to blank Westfield for the first time since a 28-0 win at home in 2001.
NOTES: Elizabeth lost at 0-5 Franklin 28-21 on Oct. 12. Franklin is now 2-5 after the Warriors won 27-2 at Plainfield Saturday.
Wilkins moved from wide receiver to quarterback against Franklin after starting senior quarterback LeShane Taylor went down with a leg injury.
Elizabeth, which lost on the road in the N2, G5 semifinals the past two seasons, will wrap its regular season at home Friday night against Old Bridge.