ROSELLE PARK, NJ — Adonis Abad made the most of his opportunities in his final high school game.
The talented Roselle senior quarterback was also at his best when he had no other choice, which was on fourth down.
Abad threw three touchdown passes, including his last two on fourth-down plays when the Rams needed more than 10 yards. His touchdown pass with 11 seconds left in the first half gave Roselle the lead for good. Abad’s final touchdown toss, which came in the third quarter, was just his fourth completion of the game at that time.
On the grass at Roselle Park’s Herm Shaw Athletic Field, Abad’s arm helped lift Abraham Clark High School to a convincing 32-14 triumph against neighborhood rival Roselle Park in the 102nd meeting between annual Thanksgiving Day opponents on Thursday, Nov. 25. It was the second straight time that Roselle defeated Roselle Park.
Roselle snapped a four-game losing streak to finish 2021 with a 5-6 record. Roselle Park, which played better than its final record, concluded at 1-9.
“This is a great feeling,” Abad said. “I love those guys. We worked hard all season. There’s no better way to go out than a winner.”
The teams did not play each other last year because of COVID-19. There was no game in 2018 for the first time because Roselle Park fielded only a junior varsity team. Roselle Park won the 100th meeting in 2017, which was a 7-6 triumph at Roselle Park. Roselle won the 101st game in 2019, which was a 50-36 triumph by the Rams at Roselle.
Junior running back Emmanuel Lyles scored Roselle’s initial touchdown on Thursday, Nov. 25, on a 50-yard run in the first quarter and then produced the team’s last score on a 3-yard burst in the fourth.
Roselle Park quickly came back from a 13-0 deficit with single touchdowns in the first and second quarters to take a brief 14-13 advantage. Sophomore running back John Ranieri and senior quarterback Mateo Perez scored on 13-yard runs, with Perez kicking both extra points.
Lyles scored his 50-yard touchdown on the game’s fourth play. Roselle scored again the second time it had the ball, when Abad threw a screen pass left to sophomore running back Nireese McDougald, who took it all the way down the left sideline for a 92-yard touchdown reception.
Roselle Park came back with its first touchdown on a 48-yard drive, with Ranieri going up the middle from 13 yards out. The Panthers drove 48 yards again on their next possession to tie the game, when Perez scampered in from 13 yards away.
After holding Roselle to a three-and-out, Roselle Park’s offense was on the move again, and it appeared that the Panthers were going to score for a third straight drive. Roselle Park reached the Roselle 12 and, on fourth-and-6, elected to try a running play instead of a field goal attempt.
Unfortunately for the Panthers, the fourth-down play they tried did not work. Junior running back William Peay was halted for a 2-yard loss, and Roselle took over on its own 14.
The Rams then proceeded to march 86 yards in 11 plays to take the lead for good with just 11 seconds left in the second quarter. On fourth-and-15 from the Roselle Park 25, Roselle junior wide receiver Jaedon Davis was all alone in the back of the end zone catching another fine pass thrown by Abad. That gave Roselle a 19-14 lead going into halftime.
“I just kept my composure,” Abad said. “On fourth down, you just keep on fighting.”
On fourth-and-16 from the Roselle Park 22, Abad again made Roselle Park pay by this time hitting senior wide receiver Tyshaun Techeira for 6 points. Techeira, in the same way as Davis, was clear in the back of the end zone.
That touchdown gave Roselle a commanding 26-14 lead with 5:11 to go in the third quarter. Lyles scored the game’s final points with 7:24 remaining in the fourth.
Abad completed five-of-16 passes for 145 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Abad also rushed for 69 yards on five carries, with 57 of those yards on four attempts coming in the first half.
“We’re extremely proud of Adonis,” first-year Roselle head coach Ibrahim Halsey said. “He battled a lot this year and stuck with it.”
Lyles carried the ball 14 times for 151 yards and two touchdowns.
“Rome was not built in one day,” Halsey said of Roselle’s rollercoaster season. The Rams were 4-2 and on the precipice of earning a playoff berth before losing three straight and then a sectional consolation game.
“We’re businesslike, and the kids are learning what it’s like to be accountable,” Halsey continued. “They are realizing how much hard work it takes to be successful.”
Ranieri was Roselle Park’s leading rusher, with 77 yards on 14 carries and one touchdown. Peay carried the ball 14 times for 68 yards, and junior running back Elijah Ignacio finished with 64 yards on 10 carries.
“This was important for our seniors to finish the trip,” Halsey said. “This was their last game, and it was a victory in a game that has a big tradition.”
Photos by JR Parachini