WASHINGTON TWP. – Solomon Holzworth scored four touchdowns and added a game-winning two-point conversion as West Morris rallied for a dramatic 43-42 double-overtime victory Friday night.
The second half and extra session were dominated by the senior back, who scored all 28 of his points as the Wolfpack battled back from a 21-7 halftime deficit.
In the final extra session, Morris Knolls pushed ahead 42-35 on a 21-yard quarterback keeper by Nick Vittorio. But West Morris took the next possession at the Golden Eagles 25 and used a 14-yard rush and four runs by Cole Draghi, including a touchdown, that put the Wolfpack within a point. The West Morris coaching staff elected to leave the offense on the field and hand the ball to Holzworth.
The senior took the handoff and found an opening on the right side to start the wild celebration.
“Collectively as a staff, we decided to go for the win,” West Morris coach Kevin Hennelly said. “We figured we were only a couple of yards away from the win anyway.”
Holzworth, who has been battling tendinitis in his left knee, rescued the Wolfpack from a lackluster first half. He hauled in a pair of touchdown passes in the third quarter and added a 1-yard touchdown run to put West Morris within two points with 14.2 seconds in regulation. West Morris receiver Willie Ruppel had made a dazzling 9-yard grab on the sideline at the Golden Eagles 8 to convert a fourth down and keep the Wolfpack’s chances alive.
Once again, Cooper Sloan found Holzworth for a short toss in the end zone to make the score 28-28 and help send the game into overtime.
“I was a little nervous when I got the ball but the adrenaline rush was just amazing,” said Holzworth, who had 84 yards of total offense in the second half and overtime.
Draghi contributed another strong performance to guide the ground attack for the Wolfpack. The junior had 125 yards and a pair of touchdowns for West Morris. Sloan was efficient throwing the ball in the second half and overtime for the Wolfpack, connecting on 7-of-9 attempts for 81 yard and two touchdowns.
The win likely locks up a home playoff game for West Morris (6-2), which has won three straight games.
“He’s a hard-working kid, who has been banged up a little bit,” said Hennelly, whose team’s only lead came in OT. “He hasn’t practiced much but we’re OK being easy with him and it was good to see him have a breakout game.”
Morris Knolls (6-2) was hoping to capture at least a share of the NJAC-National with a win. The Golden Eagles entered game tied with Roxbury and Delbarton for the top spot.
The teams traded scores in the first session of overtime. Holzworth scored on a 5-yard run for West Morris, while Jayson Parisi (103 rushing yards, three TD) followed with a 2-yard scoring run for a 35-35 score.
The game started with each team exchanging touchdowns but the Golden Eagles’ offense was able to maintain successful drives. A Morris Knolls 14-play, 68-yard drive resulted in a 4-yard touchdown by Parisi to leap the Golden Eagles ahead 14-7. But West Morris’ offense stalled near midfield, forcing a Wolfpack punt that gave Morris Knolls poor field position at its own 9.
Derek Ferguson, who hadn’t touched the ball in the first quarter, provided a huge momentum swing with a 91-yard run to the right that silenced the home crowd for a 21-7 Golden Eagles lead with 9:17 left in the first half.
The Wolfpack tried to answer before halftime but a fourth-and-1 from the Morris Knolls 24 was stopped about an inch short by Nick Donadio. An ensuing long toss by Sloan was intercepted by Mike Thomas with 1:39 remaining in the second quarter.
MORRIS KNOLLS 14-7-0-7-14-42
WEST MORRIS 7-0-13-8-15-43
M-Faubert 39 pass from Vittorio (Fullum kick)
W-Draghi 51 run (Egan kick)
M-Parisi 4 run (Fullum kick)
M-Ferguson 91 run (Fullum kick)
W-Holzworth 6 pass from Sloan (Egan kick)
W-Holzworth 34 pass from Sloan (kick failed)
M-Parisi 4 run (Fullum kick)
W-Holzworth 1 run (Holzworth pass from Sloan)
W-Holzworth 5 run (Egan kick)
M-Parisi 2 run (Fullum kick)
M-Vittorio 21 run (Fullum kick)
W-Draghi 1 run (Holzworth run)
Team records: Morris Knolls 6-2, West Morris 6-2.