Badgley leads Hilltoppers to come-from-behind win

Gridiron thriller sees Summit top Crusaders

Photo by JR Parachini
Summit’s Mike Badgley (No 5) scored all of his team’s points in last Saturday’s come-from-behind 17-13 win over visiting Johnson.

SUMMIT— Mike Badgley serves many imporant roles as a key member of theSummitfootball team.

He is a running back, a wide receiver, a defensive back, the team’s kicker on kickoffs and the squad’s placekicer when it comes to making important extra points and field goals.

Last Saturday he did it all for the host Hilltoppers, scoring all of his team’s points to lead Summit to a thilling, come-from-behind 17-13 Mid-State 38 Conference-Raritan Division triumph over Johnson at Tatlock Field.

Johnson was close to pulling off a stunning upset.

The Crusaders were real close.

They had the host Hilltoppers on their heels, one year after losing toSummiton the same field by six touchdowns.

While the visiting Crusaders first made a statement by the way they smash-mouthed their way to a three-point, fourth-quarter lead – capitalizing on second-half Summit turnovers with two Anthony Travisano touchdowns – it was ultimately Summit having to show what it was really made of with a little more than four minutes left and 98 yards in front of it.

The Hilltoppers marched those 98 yards in 11 plays, using3:10after Badgley reached the end zone from three yards out on first-and-goal with1:25to play.

“We knew that if we were going to drive the ball down field we had to play hard-nosed football,” said Badgley, who also scored Summit’s first touchdown on a 73-yard pass from senior quarterback Tyler Carbone in the first quarter and then kicked a 29-yard field goal in the second. “We can throw passes, run with the ball and catch it, but our offensive line did an outstanding job and they were the reason why we were able to get down field and score.”

On the last drive, Badgley caught a big first-down pass, good for 15 yards on third-and-eight from the four.

Summitsenior running back and Colgate-bound A.J. Iarussi carried five times for 60 yards on the drive, including runs of 13 and 38 yards for two first downs. In marching down field with their no-huddle offense, the Hilltoppers produced five first downs on the game-winning drive.

“We’ve been in some tricky scenarios before,” said Iarussi, who finished with 18 carries for a game-high 157 yards.

In the first half, Iarussi was held to just 24 yards on six carries.

“On the last drive we tried not to think about too much and just do our jobs,” Iarussi said. “Our coaches put us in the best situations for us to succeed.”

Following an interception by junior safety Vin Fischetti, Johnson got on the scoreboard when Travisano, a senior running back, raced down the right sideline for a 32-yard touchdown run with9:01left in the third quarter.

AfterSummitfumbled the ball away in the fourth quarter, with Johnson junior linebacker Joe Francisco recovering, the Crusaders got inside the Hilltopper 15 before scoring their second touchdown.

On third-and-nine from theSummit12, Johnson senior quarterback Lance Pecina hit Travisano on the left side of the field with a screen pass that was good for a 12-yard touchdown.

“Anthony is one of the best players inUnionCounty,” Johnson second-year head coach Mike Mancino said. “Not a lot of people are aware of how good he is.”

Johnson senior lefty, straightaway kicker Ed Olenick, who late in the first half just missed a 32-yard field goal attempt wide right and after the Crusaders scored their first touchdown his first PAT was also wide right, this time kicked the ball through the uprights to put Johnson ahead 13-10 with 9:21 to go.

OnSummit’s next drive, the Hilltoppers were awarded a first-and-10 on the Johnson 17 after a helmet-to-helmet personal foul was called on an incomplete pass over the middle. On the very next play,Summitwas called for holding when Iarussi scored on a 17-yard run that had to come back.

Two plays later, Johnson senior safety Bill Ring intercepted a Carbone pass at the Johnson 15 with6:42left. Mancino called Johnson’s final timeout there to go over the offense.

After gaining one first down, Johnson’s drive stalled at theSummit21. On third-and-17, Travisano booted a free kick that rolled down the middle of the field all the way to theSummit2.

The Hilltoppers, with their backs to the wall after Travisano’s 75-yard punt, answered again. They will now take a 29-game regular season winning streak into tomorrow night’s division clash atCranford. That will be a battle of 2-0 teams.

The squads also played atCranford’s Memorial Field last year in a battle of 7-0 squads.Summitwon 52-21 to clinch a third consecutive division title.

Johnson will next get ready for tomorrow night’s home-opener againstHillside.

“I don’t know what to say, we played our hearts out,” said Travisano, who carried 17 times for 99 yards and one touchdown and also caught a TD pass. “They put up 63 points on us last year like it was nothing. I think we earned respect. We’ll just have to continue to work harder in practice.”

“It’s a shame somebody had to lose,” Mancino said. “We pinnedSummitat the 2 and we were hoping for a three-and-out. GiveSummitcredit. They were conservative at first and then they got a big play and got the drive going.”

Getting some big-time blocking from the likes of linemen Olenick and senior Ryan Baron, Johnson senior running back Ed Eaton muscled his way to 34 yards on three second-half carries.

“I thought we played an outstanding game,” Mancino said. “In the first half we tripped ourselves up a bit with too many penalties. We tried to slow the tempo down so their offense couldn’t really get going.”

Mancino also told his team that if it keeps on playing to the last tick of the clock that somewhere down the road it will win a game like this.

“Johnson is a good team and good teams take advantage of mistakes the way they did,” Summit head coach John Liberato said of his team’s second-half turnovers.

“That last drive was a gut check for our kids, to see what they’re made of.

“They passed the test.”

NOTES:Summitlined up for a 50-yard field goal attempt in the third quarter, but Badgley never got the chance to kick the ball because the snap was too low for the holder to get a hold of.

Summit’s last regular season loss is stillNov. 7, 2008atWest Essexby the score of 37-12.

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