EAST RUTHERFORD – Destructive defense and timely attack propelled Caldwell throughout the season and Saturday’s season finale was no different.
The Chiefs became the first New Jersey team to end the season undefeated, winning 42-21 over Jefferson in the North Regional Championship Group 2 to end the year at 12-0.
Caldwell, # 24 in the USA Today Network Top 25 in New Jersey, had dominated all season. The Chiefs have allowed just 68 points overall all season with five shutouts and a margin of victory of at least 22 points in every game except Saturday. Still, Jefferson has been surprising teams across the state for weeks, turning an early rout by Caldwell into a close game in the second half.
âThroughout the season we have faced one game and one opponent at a time,â said coach Tom Lamont. “We know what Jefferson is capable of and we knew they didn’t give up, so we expected something when we got up early.”
Caldwell started the game with a drive near Jefferson’s red zone. One play after Harry Boland caught a fourth down conversion to extend the run, Boland hit a 17-yard touchdown pass to put the Chiefs in place, 6-0.
In the second quarter, Peter Murray jumped in front of an attempted pass from Eric Garv and scored on a 43-yard interception returned for a touchdown.
âOur emphasis was if we created turnovers we were going to win this game and that’s exactly what we did,â said Murray. “We didn’t let it all take us and we were able to compete there.”
After a three-and-out and a short punt and return, Pat Capozzoli rushed for a touchdown to give the Chiefs a dominant 20-0 lead in the second quarter.
Caldwell’s lead narrowed to six in the third quarter, but Caldwell handed the ball over to Boland. A fourth down and another from Jefferson’s 43-yard line saw Boland run for a 43-yard touchdown for the senior. A two-run conversion on an extra false run gave the Chiefs a 28-14 lead to move into fourth.
Touchdowns from Boland and Capozzoli in the fourth quarter extended Caldwell’s lead, ending the season perfect.
What this means
For the third time in its history, Caldwell ends an unbeaten season. Making their regional championship debut, Caldwell gets an extra game to finish 12-0 for the first time in program history.
One of seven undefeated New Jersey teams to enter on Saturday, Caldwell is the first to end their season unbeaten. Bergen Catholic plays in the non-public A final after Caldwell at MetLife Stadium. Cedar Creek, East Orange, Hillsborough, Northern Highlands and Woodbury will all play next week at SHI Stadium at Rutgers University.
Set of keys
On the fourth and one of Jefferson’s 43-yard line and maintaining a 20-14 lead, Caldwell handed the ball to Harry Boland. Boland ran straight down the middle and wasn’t knocked out until he reached the end zone.
Boland’s touchdown gave Caldwell a two-goal lead in the fourth quarter and prevented the Falcons from retaining the momentum they had gained in halftime.
By the numbers
Jefferson played 68 games on Saturday, compared to 46 for Caldwell as the Falcons controlled the pace of play throughout the game. Caldwell stopped Jefferson from crossing the 50-yard line to the seven-minute mark of the second quarter. Conversely, Caldwell had short pitches throughout the first half and only took a snap in his own half until the end of the second quarter.
Football found Boland throughout the afternoon, scoring three touchdowns and getting two interceptions defensively. Boland finished with 102 rushing yards and 32 receiving yards on nine carries and three catches respectively.
Boland only touched the ball a dozen times on offense, but got chunks of distance each time
âI have so much confidence in him,â Murray said. “Anytime we have a fourth and a couple of, I know they’re going to get it. I trust them and trust our O line to get them through.”
They said it
“We didn’t know if we should go [on fourth down], but we thought we were only here once in 20 years, so what is this. “- Lamont.
“We were 1-8 when I was in second year and we were determined to make a difference. It took two years and a lot of hard work, but we wanted to be here and we got there.” – Caldwell senior Peter Murray.
Robert Aitken is a high school sports reporter for NorthJersey.com. For full access to live scores, the latest news and analysis from our Varsity Aces team, subscribe today. To get the latest news straight to your inbox, Subscribe to our newsletter and download our app.