Somerville, N.J. – On the final night of the regular season, the Somerville Pioneers defeat the Summit Hilltoppers in a showdown between two of the Mid-State 38's best teams. With Friday night's 42-7 win, the Pioneers secured their first undefeated season in over a decade and for only the fourth time in the history of the program.
The first half saw the dominant Pioneer defense. With Summit electing to receive the opening kickoff, the Somerville defense came out and stood their ground immediately, forcing a quick three and out. Then, with 7:55 left in the first, senior RB Keyshawn Newton found the end zone on a hand off to put the Pioneers up 7-0. The Somerville defense continued to perform, as the ensuing Hilltoppers possession would result in a fumble recovered by the Pioneers. The quarter would continue with back and forth action as the score would remain 7-0 Pioneers ending the first.
The second quarter began the way the first ended, a defensive battle. However, the Pioneers would strike twice before the halftime siren sounded. The first score came courtesy of junior WR/DB Marcus Burnside's six yard run. His score and a successful PAT by senior WR Chris Ciempola would make the game 14-0, Somerville. Later in the quarter, senior QB Nick Couzzi would join in on the action as he took it to the house for the score, pushing the Somerville lead to 21. The Pioneer defense would shut out the Summit offense in the first half. Going into the break, the score would be 21-0 in favor of the host Pioneers.
Receiving the football to start the second half, the Pioneers would look to make a statement coming out of the break. They did just that as two minutes into the half Nick Couzzi connected with sophomore WR/DB Duke McDuffie on a 42 yard touchdown to make it 28-0. With the defense continuing to shutout Summit, the offense got another shot to put up more points. With 7:31 left in the third, Couzzi hit Chris Ciempola for a touchdown, this time a 34 yard strike to the corner of the end zone. Somerville would take a 35-0 lead in the third and make it a running clock the rest of the way. The quarter would end with Somerville keeping its shutout intact, 35-0.
In the fourth Summit's Matt Murdock ran the ball into the end zone to get the Hilltoppers on the board. With a converted PAT, the Pioneers still held the 35-7 lead over Summit. The game's final score would come from Somerville, as junior QB Ryan Kovacs found McDuffie for a 22 yard touchdown. That score would make it 42-7, and that remain the final.
On the stat line, senior QB Nick Couzzi completed 19 of his 29 attempts for 215 yards and two touchdowns. On the ground, he had 59 yards and a score. One of the many bright spots for the offense was another senior, RB Keyshawn Newton. Newton ran the ball seven times for 61 yards and a touchdown. Receiving, he added six catches for 63 yards. Senior WR Chris Ciempolaalso had a touchdown on three grabs for 50 yards.
Somerville's defense was once again dominate as they only gave up seven points to the Hilltoppers. This marks the fourth game in a row, and five out of their last six games, in which the defense has held the opponent to less than 10 points. Leading the way on Friday was LB Jared Tuazon. The senior was all over the field recording 10 tackles. Fellow senior Rob McTernan also had himself a game, finishing with eight tackles of his own. Junior LB Ryan Hrabinski added five tackles to go along with one of three sacks for the Somerville defense.
Coming into Friday night's matchup against the Hilltoppers, Somerville had already clinched the #1 seed in the state championship playoffs. The Pioneers are awaiting the results of other games to find out who the #8 seed will be.
Next Friday night the #16 (9-0) Somerville Pioneers will host the first round of the playoffs against a team that TBD. Be the first to know all about the state games by following us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for all up-to-date info - @VilleFootball as well as our website www.somervillefootball .