Varsity Football Friday, October 27 – Sparta Spartans 27 at Jefferson Falcons 21

Thomas Agudo’s 1 yard touchdown run with 6:44 remaining broke a 21-21 tie and the Spartans held on for a 27-21 victory at Senior Night at Jefferson in an NJSFC Patriot Red division contest.

The game which promised to be a close affair did not disappoint. The Spartans struck first with Agudo capping a 62 yard 4:19 drive by carrying the ball in from 2 yards out to give Sparta a 7-0 lead after one quarter. The Falcons responded with a scoring drive of their own, going 69 yards in nine and a half minutes to even the score with Matt Cappello scoring on a 14 yard run for a 7-7 tie.

Following a 3 and out by the Spartans, Jefferson took the lead at 14-7 when quarterback Anthony “Cheech” Johnson handed off to Cappello who completed a 64 yard pass play to Drew Benfatti who then kicked the extra point to give the Falcons a lead they took into the locker room at half time.

Sparta counter-punched again with another long drive, this time covering 83 yards with Agudo, who finished the game with 168 yards on 31 carries, plowing in from the 2 to tie the game at 14..

The Falcons wasted no time re-taking the lead, as on their first play from scrimmage, with a 1st and 10 from their own 28, Johnson connected on a seemingly mid-range pass to junior running back Joe Batelli,  who followed the catch with some electrifying running, covering the 72 yards in a mere 16 seconds and the Falcons had the lead at 21-14.

However, the Falcons lead was to short-lived as the Spartans ran an option play of their own with quarterback Anthony Broccoletti pitching to Eric Castorina who completed a 45 yard pass to Ben McDonald to set them up with a 1st and goal at the Falcons 6.  Three plays later reserve running back Jhordin Griffin made his only carry of the night a big one scoring the tying touchdown making the score after three quarters Falcons 21 Spartans 21.

This set up a thrilling fourth quarter with both teams giving it everything they had but sadly for the Falcons, culminating in Agudo’s tie-breaking touchdown.

Following the game, Jefferson head coach Jerry Venturino likened the game to a heavyweight boxing match “with each team landing one punch after the next but sadly, they were able to get the last one in”.

Despite the loss, Coach Venturino praised his squad “I’m extremely proud of them.  They were excited and prepared. We had a great week of work and never quit”.

With the game against the Spartans in their rear view mirror, the Falcons travel to Stanhope on Friday night for the regular season finale against the Lenape Valley Patriots.

“We’re going to be completely focused on Lenape Valley”, Coach Venturino commented. “We’ll tell the kids to stay focused and stay on an even keel”.

With the win, Sparta is alone atop the NJSFC – Patriot Red Division with a 5-0 record and 7-1 overall. Jefferson slips to 3-3 in conference and 4-4 overall going into Friday’s battle against the Patriots.

                                                 1   2   3  4   T
Sparta Spartans  (7-1/5-0)    7   0  14  6  27
Jefferson Falcons (4-4/3-3)   0  14  7   0  21

1st Quarter

S Agudo (2) run  PAT DeSimone kick (S 7 J 0)

2nd Quarter

J Cappello (14) run  PAT Benfatti kick (J 7 S 7

J Benfatti (64) pass from Cappello PAT Benfatti kick (J 14 S 7)

3rd Quarter

S Agudo ( 3) run PAT DeSimone kick (J 14 S14)

J Batelli (72 ) pass from A. Johnson PAT Benfatti kick (J 21 S 14)

S Griffin (1) run PAT DeSimone kick (J 21 S 21)

4th Quarter

S Agudo (1) run PAT kick failed (S 27 J 21)

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Michael Chirichella has worked in the Sports Information Departments of Marquette University, the University of Dayton and the University of Memphis, where he also served as a staff writer for University's Office of Media Relations. He's also served as an interim sports editor for weekly newspapers in Central and South New Jersey. He can be reached at