|VIDEO: Chatham stuns West Essex with late touchdown|
For the second straight year, the Chatham football field turned into a house of horrors for West Essex. The Cougars, who beat West Essex in a state playoff game last year, blocked a punt in the final minute and scored the winning touchdown and extra point with 18 seconds left for a stunning 22-21 triumph.
Timmy Adams did it all for Chatham as his team rallied from a 14-0 deficit. Adams ran for 67 yards and two touchdowns, including the 6-yard run to tie the score in the final seconds. The senior then booted the game-winning extra point to touch off a celebration for the Cougars.
Chatham's comeback began just before halftime, after a key roughing-the-punter call on West Essex. With seconds left, quarterback Max Schelling lofted a pass to the end zone that was batted up into the air and caught by Chris Francesco for a Hail Mary touchdown to cut the lead to 14-6.
The Cougars took advantage of two turnovers in the third quarter to score nine points. Adams had an interception to set up his first touchdown run to cut the lead to two. After Chatham recovered a fumbled snap, Adams kicked a field goal to give the Cougars a 15-14 lead.
But West Essex regained the lead on Vinny Scaglia's 43-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter. It seemed that might be enough for the Knights, but a key penalty prevented them from running out the clock and set up the wild finish.
Scaglia was the leading rusher of the night, carrying nine times for 147 yards. Mike Lacovara had 46 rushing yards and a TD for West Essex, and Drew Lemanski also scored on a quarterback sneak.
Lemanski added 128 yards passing for the Knights, with Brian O'Neill catching three of his passes for 70 yards.
Despite the tough loss, West Essex, now 3-2, still appears in good shape to qualify for the state football playoffs in North 2, Group III.
Chatham, which reached the finals of that section last fall with the win over the Knights, reinvigorated its own hopes to return to the post-season. The Cougars are now 2-3, but in a section with no dominant teams, a couple more wins might allow them to return to the playoffs.
This game was played under temporary lights at Chatham's Cougar Field.
For sports video highlights of this New Jersey and North Jersey Super Football Conference high school football game, click play in the box at left.