Soccer: Hackensack blocks late punt, beats Teaneck for 9th straight game

Hackensack defeated Teaneck 15-7 after a strong play on the ground and a blocked punt to make his way in the last minute on Thanksgiving Day to score crucial points for the game. Junior Ayden Jones rushed for 179 yards, a touchdown, and a two point conversion. His last yard came on the one-yard touchdown rush that gave Hackensack his first lead of the game.

In a sloppy first half, Hackensack fumbled three teams to the ball, including a lost fumble that kick-started the teaneck offense at Hackensack’s three-yard line after a recovery from junior Michael Reddick. Teaneck senior Tyreke Porter Jr. slammed the ball into the end zone on her first play to give the home team a 7-0 lead. That seven-point deficit continued through halftime, with Jones discussing how his team could recover and claim the win.

“We had a long chat in the dressing room, we knew it was going to be a back-and-forth,” Jones said. “We had to stick together as a team and play our best game and we did that. No turnovers and we kept moving the ball without losing yards.”

Hackensack’s ability to stay up front in the second half was a key factor in the turnaround on offense. On the team’s first touchdown drive, Jones carried the ball for 61 yards nine straight times in the first nine games. Those 61 yards accounted for 65 of the total yards Hackensack recorded before senior Jake Borchard converted a 4th and a goal from the one-yard line to tie things to 7-7 midway through the third quarter and an 11- Play, 65-yard scoring ride that featured nothing but hasty attempts.

“They had a good (defensive) game plan, but we went with what works best for us and that’s ballplay,” Jones said.

Hackensack coach Brett Ressler was thankful his team’s mistakes at half-time resulted in just one possession deficit. Ressler, who made his debut on November 3, knew things would change once his team brushed the rust off their absence.

“You can tell we haven’t played in about three weeks,” said Ressler. “We got some kids healthy and as soon as we stopped hitting ourselves and started playing comet football, which Hackensack is known for, it started to go right.”

Hackensack’s defense was doing well enough to force Teaneck into a 4th and 25th from his own ten yard line in the final 90 seconds of the fourth quarter. Coach Ressler encouraged his punt-block unit to be aggressive, and sophomore Jo’Vanny Mora served as the ultimate aggressor, blocking the following punt and setting the Comets a yard off the lead.

“We said we wanted to send the house and win on defense and we did,” Ressler said. “Blocked the punt, hit it on the next game, stopped them at the end, I don’t know what else you could ask for.”

That stop came despite three defensive penalties that helped Teaneck as it reached Hackensack’s 20-yard line with six seconds to go. Junior quarterback Vance Mixon threw a pass into the corner of the end zone intended for freshman Demetrius Owens Jr., but the pass went incomplete after time ran out.

Teaneck head coach Harold Clark didn’t get the result he and his team wanted but was proud of the fight his team put on throughout the game as the score remained in limbo until the clock struck zero.

“Our boys persevered, I thought it was a great game to the end,” Clark said. “Our receiver, who’s a freshman, dropped that touchdown but he’s going to be great, he’s going to be an absolutely fantastic receiver.”

With Teaneck’s 7-4 record the best under coach Clark, Clark struck an upbeat tone as he reflected on his team’s future and the annual Thanksgiving games against Hackensack.

“We’re going to improve our offense a lot for next year,” Clark said. “We have a lot of sophomores and juniors playing here, but that’s no excuse. Hackensack was the better team. I commend their head coach and staff and look forward to seeing them again next year, we will be in Hackensack next year.”

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