LINDEN – The last time Linden traveled to Somerville to play mighty Immaculata at its Brooks Field, the Tigers came away with a 19-14 victory two years ago. Linden played Immaculata tough at home last year before falling 33-20.
The Tigers, who are 1-3 and looking to snap a two-game losing streak, can turn their season around by beating the Spartans tomorrow night.
Kickoff at Brooks Field is set for 7.
Linden came close to knocking off Montgomery last Friday night before falling 24-14.
The game was tied 14-14 at halftime after Linden came back from 7-0 and 14-7 deficits.
Montgomery had the edge in the second half.
Here’s a look at what transpired:
In the first half, the home team Tigers overcame a key turnover and twice answered Montgomery touchdowns to even the score by halftime.
However, similar mistakes in the second half could not be overcome, with the visiting Cougars taking advantage again and this time not giving up the lead anymore.
Sparked by the straight-ahead running of senior running back Ryan Boyle – who rushed for one touchdown – and the passing of sophomore quarterback Chris Chugunov to junior wide receiver Sam Oltmans, the tandem hooking up for two TDs, Montgomery went on to post a convincing 24-14 victory last Friday night in Mid-State 38 Conference-Watchung Division play at Cooper Field.
Montgomery won its third straight to improve to 3-1 overall. The Cougars, situated in Central Jersey, Group 5 this year, are also 3-1 and in second place in the Watchung Division.
Linden lost for the second straight time and is now 1-3 overall and 1-3 in the Watchung. The Tigers will next prepare for a division game at Immaculata tomorrow night at Brooks Field in Somerville.
Immaculata won at Watchung Hills 21-6 last Friday night to improve to 3-1 overall and 2-1 in the Watchung.
Montgomery will next play at Mountain Division squad Warren Hills tomorrow night. Warren Hills is 1-3.
This was the first time that Linden and Somerset County school Montgomery played each other in football.
Four plays – the first two turnovers and the next two penalties that negated big offensive plays – sealed Linden’s fate Friday night.
“That’s been our song for the season,” Linden head coach Deon Candia said.
Here’s a look at all four:
Play No. 1 – After Montgomery was stopped without a first down on the game’ s opening possession, Linden took its first possession and marched from its own 25 to the Montgomery 11.
After Montgomery called a timeout, Linden went for it on fourth-and-two from the Cougar 11. Linden junior quarterback Dazzmen Johnson rolled left and then completed a pass to senior tight end Jeremy Stathum, who was hit at the 3. Unfortunately for the Tigers, Stathum was knocked hard and the ball was jarred loose, with Montgomery senior defensive back Josh Reinson there to recover on his own 4. The Cougars capitalized by driving 96 yards for the game’s first score, which came on a 10-yard pass from Chugunov to Oltmans. On the third play of the drive, Chugunov hit Oltmans over the middle for what turned out to be a 75-yard pass to the Linden 7.
Play No. 2 – Linden’s second possession of the second half began at its own 35, with the score still tied in the third quarter at 14-14. On third-and five from its own 40, Johnson completed a pass on the right side this time to junior wide receiver Tykir West, who made a nifty move to get into Montgomery field position. However, at the Cougar 35, West lost possession of the ball, with Montgomery senior DB Nick Demao falling on it. Starting from its own 27, the Cougars capitalized on this turnover by driving 73 yards in 11 plays, with Oltmans catching a 14-yard TD pass from Chugunov some four minutes later.
Play No. 3 – Still trailing 21-14, Linden’s fourth possession of the second half saw it reach the Montgomery 30. On fourth-and-nine and with 9:16 remaining in the fourth quarter, Johnson passed to junior wide receiver Antoine Morgan, who caught the ball on the left side of the field and then quickly broke a tackle to reach the Montgomery 16 for a first down. However, the play was called back because Linden was hit with a penalty for blocking in the back. On the very next play, the Tigers were forced to punt.
Play No. 4 – Following a three-and-out on its fourth possession, Montgomery could only punt the ball 19 yards to the Linden 26. With 5:15 and counting to go, Linden went for it on fourth-and-four from the Cougar 20. This time sophomore running back Juwan Dolbrice broke a tackle and got loose on the left side to scamper the necessary 20 yards to paydirt. However, his touchdown run was called back because Linden was charged – again – with another blocking-in-the-back penalty. An incomplete pass in the end zone followed, with Linden’s drive stalling. Montgomery then drove for an insurance field goal, which clinched the division contest.
“We have a young team and in certain situations we came up short,” Candia said. “We have fighters among our young kids. It’s just going to be a matter of time before we click.”
Boyle carried 21 times for 101 yards, including a one-yard touchdown run in the second quarter that put Montgomery back up at 13-7.
Chugunov completed six-of-12 passes for 164 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Oltmans caught all six of Chugunov’s completed passes, four in the first half for 136 yards and one touchdown and two in the second half for 28 and one more TD.
“He’s a good player,” Candia said of Oltmans. “We were misplaced on defense a couple of times against him.”
Dolbrice carried 24 times for a game-high 105 yards. In the first half, Dolbrice rushed for 96 yards on 16 attempts, one of them a five-yard touchdown run for Linden’s first score.
“We’re asking Juwan to do a lot,” Candia said. “He’s a tough kid.”
Morgan, taking a reverse from Dolbrice, scored Linden’s second touchdown on a seven-yard run with less than 40 seconds remaining before halftime. Morgan took the handoff from Dolbrice and raced around the left side, diving into the end zone on a fourth-and-one play.
Linden sophomore punter Corey Ampey, who also kicked both Tiger extra points, produced three fine punts in the second half after not having to punt at all in the first. Three second-half punts went for 51, 40 and 37 yards.