Roxbury-Parsippany Hills football – Daily Record

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With their spots and rankings in the upcoming NJSIAA playoffs all but certain, you would have thought the football teams from Parsippany Hills and Roxbury would try to play it safe on Friday night.

Guess again.

Give your best players the night off, and hold back on any surprise play-calling so next week’s opponents do not learn anything?

Guess again.

Neither team could be accused of taking Friday night off. Just the opposite, both teams played as if they still had not clinched a spot in the playoffs.

Led by a defense that three times forced turnovers near its goal, Parsippany Hills upset the host Gaels, 21-16.

“I told the kids we needed a signature win heading into the playoffs, and this was it,” Vikings coach Dave Albano said.

Losing 21-16, Roxbury looked poised to score with the ball on the Vikings’ 14-yard line. But on the next play, Craig Roumes fumbled, and the ball rolled into the end zone where it was recovered by Ryan Shaw for a touchback.

Parsippany Hills (7-2) jumped out to a 7-0 lead on their first drive behind the running of Angelo Gallego, who had 258 yards on 38 carries. On his second carry, Gallego blasted through a hole up the middle for a 56-yard run down to the Roxbury 21 yard line. Two more runs by Gallego gained five yards and a four yard run by JD Keys gained four to set up fourth and one from the Roxbury 12-yard line. On fourth down, Gallego took a handoff on a sweep and ran untouched into the end zone for the Vikings first score.

Roxbury (7-2) needed only one play to answer back and tie the score. After a touchback on the kickoff gave them the ball on the 20, Gaels quarterback Grant Dixon dropped back and found wide receiver Stephen Loreng deep behind the Parsippany Hills secondary. Loreng caught the ball at the Parsippany Hills 40-yard line and ran the rest of the way untouched to tie the game at 7-7.

The rest of the first half turned into a defensive struggle. The Roxbury defense forced two turnovers, as Craig Roumes and Max Russ recovered fumbles. But Parsippany Hills’ defense gave no ground and the game remained tied.

Not to be outdone, the Vikings sacked Roxbury quarterback Grant Dixon four times in the first half and intercepted him twice. The Vikings secondary stopped two drives deep in their territory as Ryan Shaw intercepted Dixon at the Parsippany Hills 5-yard line in the first quarter, and Alex Lerman intercepted Dixon in the Vikings’ end zone early in the second quarter.

Lerman’s interception set the stage for Parsippany Hills’ second score. After Lerman returned the interception to the Vikings’ 16-yard line, Gallego got the offense going with a 27-yard run to the 43. The Vikings marched downfield behind the running of Gallego and Keys and the passing of quarterback Nick Verducci. A 12-yard pass from Verducci to Keys gave Parsippany Hills a first down at the 11-yard line. Two plays later, Verducci rolled out for a nine-yard pass to give the Vikings a 14-7 lead going into halftime.

“It is a great win all around,” Gallego said. “Coming into this game, we were talking about getting a huge win to give us momentum going into the playoffs, and that is what we did.”

After a rough first half, Dixon completed three passes for 35 yards and ran for 33 more to set up a 3-yard scoring run by Roumes. Jack Clevenger’s extra point attempt was wide left, leaving Roxbury trailing 14-13.

Penalties prevented Parsippany Hills from extending its lead. Gallego, who rushed for 148 yards in the first half, had a 39-yard touchdown run called back due to a holding call.

Parsippany Hills took advantage of the Roxbury lineman James Roberts’ absence as Gallego and Keys ground out yards up the middle. They alternated carries as the Vikings ran the ball on 10 successive plays to move from their 22-yard line to the Roxbury 9. On the next play, Verducci faked a handoff to Gallego, dropped back and found Keys out of the backfield for their second touchdown of the evening to increase Parsippany Hills’ lead to 21-13

Despite the victory, Parsippany Hills will still likely remain the third seed in North 2 Group III and host Orange.

Roxbury came into the game ranked first in North 1 Group IV. However their playoff opponent depends on the outcome of Saturday’s Montclair-East Orange game. If Montclair wins, Roxbury will slip to second in the standings, and host a rematch against Randolph, which lost to Roxbury 49-35 last week. If East Orange upsets Montclair, the Gaels would be seeded first and host Passaic Valley.

PARSIPPANY HILLS …7 7 7 0 — 21

ROXBURY …7 0 6 3 — 16

PH-Angelo Gallego 12 run (Cormac Bradley kick)

R-Stephen Loreng 80 pass from Grant Dixon (Jack Clevenger kick)

PH-JD Keys 9 pass from Nick Verducci (Bradley kick)

R-Craig Roumes 3 run (Kick failed)

PH-Keys 9 pass from Nick Verducci (Bradley kick)

R-Clevenger 32 FG

Team Records: Parsippany Hills 7-2, Roxbury 7-2.