On a breezy Friday night, the Jefferson Falcons continued their winning streak with a second in a row over West Milford, 26-18. This win came on the team’s senior night, and most likely clinched a state playoff spot.
The start of the game wasn’t what J-Town hoped it would be. The Highlanders started the game with an eye-opening drive, capped off with a rushing touchdown. Although they missed the extra point, the Falcons were put in a six-point hole early.
J-Town would respond in exciting fashion on the first play of their first drive. This is when quarterback Bam Johnson found Caleb Rippey for a long passing touchdown. A blocked extra point would keep the score at a deadlock, 6-6.
Quickly West Milford would strike back with a long drive and another touchdown, but again, no extra point. That would be all for the first quarter as the next few drives would all end in Jefferson turnovers on an interception and fumbled snap. The first quarter closed with West Milford leading 12-6.
Once the second quarter began, Jefferson was ready to answer with a long and stellar run by Mike Gould, evening the score at 12.
But West Milford showed no signs of quitting. They scored yet another come-from-behind touchdown, taking the lead once again. That Highlander lead would take West Milford into halftime with an 18-12 lead.
During halftime, the Falcons honored their nine football seniors, as well as the cheerleaders and marching band. That was not the only thing to happen during halftime.
“We needed to fight for the seniors, and for David (Hanna) and his father, Dwight, (who was a big part of the Falcons Family but passed away two months ago). In the locker room when they left for the ceremony, we just said that we were going to get it done and we knew we would,” junior Mike Studnick said after the game.
That excitement and energy was provided on the first play of the half when Mike Gould rushed for another touchdown, getting the Falcons a quick 19-18 lead. From there, the Falcons would never look back. To end the third quarter, Johnson used his arm to hit Studnick as he snuck into the end zone to get the Falcons a 26-18 lead.
The fourth quarter went straight down to the wire. Jefferson was backed up inside their own five yard line where the Highlanders hoped to tie the game. The Falcons had a different idea. On a Highlander rushing play, the ball popped loose before Studnick recovered the fumble, sealing the victory for the Falcons, 26-18.
After the game, seniors Bam Johnson and Jefferson Felter spoke about their senior class. “We are an extremely unique group. All teams say family, but when this team and I say family we really mean it. Our bonding has been something I haven’t seen before,” Felter said.
“I’ve never been on a team with so much chemistry. This win meant the playoffs or not, and it was a huge win,” Johnson said on the senior class and the importance of the win.
“When you come together like that and play like a program, it is more than just the seniors,” Coach Venturino said. “When they left for the ceremony, we talked about how everyone left in the locker room was the team for next year. And I gave them the option of playing for the seniors one last time or just getting ready for the future. They chose right.”
With senior night over, the Falcons are done with their home games for the year. They head to Mendham on Friday, November 1. This will be Jefferson’s last game prior to their state run.