Cavs fall to Polk County in first round
On a night where East Rutherford appeared to control the ballgame for the entire first half, they couldn’t hold on in the second as Polk County owned the final 24 minutes and sent the Cavaliers packing with a 23-13 loss ending their 2012 campaign.
The most telling statistic from the night has to be Polk County running 74 offensive plays compared to just 30 for the Cavaliers.
“We just couldn’t do anything in the second half,” head coach Clint Bland said following the loss. “It’s frustrating, aggravating and I hate it.”
The Cavaliers started the game with the ball and Watkins made a statement on the very first snap with a 47-yard scamper from their own 34 to the Polk County 19.
Jaman Edgerton received the following hand-off for 9 yards, Cody Hall reeled in a 2-yard pass but then a penalty negated a 5-yard run by Lovell Robinson putting East in a first-and-goal situation from the 20.
Edgerton got the Cavs back to the 9 but a loss of one and an incomplete pass brought out Harrison Wilkerson for a 27-yard field goal attempt, however, the kick sailed wide from the right hash leaving the game scoreless.
Polk took over with 8:30 left in the quarter and gave the Cavs a heavy dose of their sophomore fullback Jordan Smith.
Smith racked up over 50 yard on their opening drive while the Wolverines converted two fourth down. Te Polk running game drained the remainder of the first quarter to end it in a scoreless tie.
The Cavalier opened the second quarter with Hall snagging an Alec Philpot pass out of the air to put the ball back in Watkins’ hands.
Watkinsn wasted little time before he broke through the Polk defense for an electrifying 59-yard touchdown run. A Wilkerson kick put East on top 7-0 with 9:12 remaining in the half.
The Cavalier defense held strong with two sacks on the ensuing Polk drive forcing them into a three-and-out.
East couldn’t manage anything on their next drive and punted to Polk with 5:18 left in the second quarter.
Philpot took to the ground and marched the Wolverines down to the Cavalier 31 with two minutes remaining.
The Cavs defense was up to the challenge and ended the Polk threat with a Jordan Strickland sack on fourth down.
Watkins and the Cavaliers took over with just over a minute left and used a few passes, the biggest play being a deep pass over the middle to Hall to put East at the 25 with three seconds left.
Bland opted to go for the endzone on the final play but the Watkins pass was intercepted to send the game into the break with East leading the Wolverines 7-0.
Polk opened the half with a methodical drive that ate up over eight minutes worth of the third quarter.
Behind Smith and Philpot the Wolverines marched across the 50 before being forced to punt on fourth-and-13. However, Polk snapped the ball to Jamal Tanner who ran 20 yards for a Polk first down.
A 21-yard rumble by Smith brought the Wolverines deep into East territory before Philpot found Reece Schlabaugh alone in the endzone for a 3-yard touchdown pass. The point after tied the score at 7-7 with 3:24 left in the third quarter.
Watkins muffed the ensuing kick and was dropped on the East 2 by Smith.
Kaleb McEntyre took the pitch on the first play but was dropped in the endzone by Lucas Williams for a Polk County safety.
“We were able to get outside on the option earlier in the game because we were cracking that linebacker,” Bland said. “Looking back I probably wouldn’t call that again…I was thinking that they were thinking we were going to run it right at them. I thought maybe we could hit something big on the edge.”
The safety would be the only offensive play run by the Cavs in the third quarter.
“They kept the ball away from us,” Bland said. “Time of possession was just terrible on our end.”
Polk took over on their 24 but got a big a big third down conversion from Philpot to Smith and a 26-yard run from Philpot to march into East territory.
Smith and Philpot finished off the drive and Philpot snuck it into the endzone from 1-yard out to extend the Polk lead to 16-7 after the PAT.
East decided to stick to the pass on the next drive but Polk pressure reached Watkins twice and forced the Cavs to punt. The Austin Hollifield punt was blocked, he picked it up but was dropped and Polk took over at the Cavalier 21.
The Wolverines drive ended on downs after Jabbari Cash dropped Philpot behind the line on fourth down.
East took over but Philpot took it back when he picked off Watkins’ second down pass attempt.
Smith and Philpot carried the Wolverines inside of the 5 but Tyler Jackson punched it in from 2 yards out. The PAT gave Polk a 23-7 lead with 2:24 left in the contest.
East cut the deficit quickly on the next drive with a big play to Hall to bring them to the 5 where Watkins found Travis Waldroup-Rodriguez in the corner of the endzone for six points. The two-point conversion failed and Polk continued to lead 23-13 with 56 seconds left.
The Wolverines recovered the onside kick and killed the clock to secure the 23-13 victory.
Wolverines 23, Cavaliers 13
Polk County^0^0^9^14 – 23
E. Rutherford^0^7^0^0 – 13
ERHS- T.J. Watkins 59 yd run. (Harrison Wilkerson kick) 9:12
PCHS- Reece Schlabach 3 yd pass from Alec Philpot. (Gage Stone kick) 3:24
PCHS- Lucas Williams safety. 3:14
PCHS- Philpot 1 yd run. (Stone kick) 8:30
PCHS- Tyler Jackson 2 yd run. (Stone kick) 2:24
ERHS- Travis Waldroup-Rodriguez 5 yd pass from Watkins. (2 pt conversion failed) 0:55