By: Alex Melillo
NORTH PLAINFIELD, NJ —The Somerville Pioneers prevailed in their first road test of the season, defeating the North Plainfield Canucks 55-25. The Pioneers are now 2-0 on the season.
In their first game away from the confines of Brooks Field, the Pioneers were tested in the first half. Both offenses got off the block fast, but it was Somerville that struck first. With just under six minutes left in the opening frame, junior QB/LB Jahaln Dabney powered his way into the end zone for the game's first score. The mark would make it an early 6-0 lead for the visiting Pioneers.
Two minutes later, the hosting team answered, knotting up the game at 6-6 with just 3:45 left in the first quarter. With 2:30 remaining, junior WR/LB Joseph Ciempola skyed for a ball thrown from senior QB Ryan Kovacs. Ciempola out-jumped his defender and hauled in the pass for the second Somerville touchdown of the game. A converted PAT by junior K Bobby Wortman resulted in a score of 13-6 at the end of the first.
Somerville's offense would remain silent for the remainder of the first half. The only points of the second quarter came on a fumble by the Pioneer offense which the Canucks recovered for a touchdown. At halftime, it was all tied up at 13-13.
The first half saw the momentum swing back and forth between the hosts and visitors. The third quarter would prove to be no different. On the opening kickoff for the final 24 minutes of action, the Pioneers recovered a fumble, giving them the ball on the Canuck 17-yard line. The Pioneer offense took advantage of the recovery.
Kovacs found junior WR/DB Kasi Miller in the end zone for the score, extending the Pioneer lead to 20-13. North Plainfield wasted little time in countering the Somerville score. The ensuing kickoff was returned 95-yards by the Canucks. A missed PAT tightened the gap to 20-19, with Somerville holding on to a slim lead.
Somerville, determined to keep their foot on the gas, responded two minutes later with a touchdown pass from Kovacs to fellow senior WR/DB Marcus Burnside. But North Plainfield would not back down, going stride for stride with the Pioneers. With 2:45 left in the third quarter, the Canucks scored another touchdown. A failed PAT brought the home side within two points at 27-25.
Another swing of the pendulum came in the form of a 65-yard catch and run touchdown from Somerville junior WR/DB Duke McDuffie, extending the Pioneer lead, 33-25. With time winding down in the quarter, North Plainfield began their drive down the field. With time expiring in the quarter, momentum shifted to the Pioneers as Burnside intercepted a Canuck pass inside his own red zone, returning it to the North Plainfield 39-yard line. At the end of three, the Pioneers led 33-25.
Continuing the offensive surge, the Somerville Pioneers scored on their first possession of the final quarter. From the wildcat, McDuffie got a key block from Kovacs on the goal line and barreled his way to pay dirt. Somerville now led the Canucks 41-25 with 10:15 left in the game.
Junior RB Robert Fiorentino, who had a breakout game for Somerville, ran the ball left into the end zone with 3:54, making the score 48-25 in favor of the Pioneers.
The final dagger came late in the game when junior WR/DB Da'Shaun Smith intercepted a pass and returned it 98 yards for the late tally.
Final Score: Somerville- 54 North Plainfield- 25.
Next week the Somerville Pioneers return to Brooks Field on Youth Day when they host the Voorhees Vikings. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 pm. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@VilleFootball) for up-to-date scores and information about the Somerville Pioneers. Visit our website at www.somervillefootball.com