Indians run through Dwight Morrow to advance to 2-0


Matt Austin

Head coach Len Cusumano on the sidelines. This seasons 2-0 start is Valleys best since his debut in 2016

Spencer Goldstein, Sports Editor

One week after the passing attack highlighted Pascack Valley’s season-opening victory, the Indians rode a dominant running game to a 42-14 rout in Dwight Morrow against the Maroon Raiders on Friday night, advancing to 2-0 on the season.

Senior running back Jake Williams led the charge, gaining 86 yards and scoring four touchdowns on the ground. He also tacked on one reception for 34 yards.

“Our offensive line opened up the holes,” Williams said. “It was easy for them; they bullied the kids up front and it made us run the ball more often this week.”

Following a three-and-out by Dwight Morrow’s offense, the Indians wasted little time getting on the board, taking eight plays to march down the field and score on their opening drive. Williams capped off the series with a three-yard touchdown run.

The Maroon Raiders bounced back, however, as quarterback Jalen Hoyle connected with receiver Ryan Fletcher for a 52-yard touchdown on the following possession, cutting Valley’s lead to 7-6 after a failed two-point conversion. Hoyle would finish with 123 passing yards and two touchdowns – both to Fletcher– along with 81 yards on the ground. He also threw two interceptions and completed just four of nine passes as he was never able to find a rhythm, largely in part to Valley’s pass-rush.

“The boys did a great job tackling,” head coach Len Cusumano said. “We really focused on that this week. [Hoyle] has Division I speed so you really have to make sure you’re fundamentally sound in tackling.”

That one-point deficit proved to be as close as Dwight Morrow would get, as the Indians quickly responded with an eight-play, 66-yard drive that concluded with a four-yard rushing touchdown by Williams. Not even five minutes later, Williams found the endzone for the third time in the first half following senior Jake Ciocca’s second interception of the season.

After Dwight Morrow made it a one-possession game just before halftime following a strip-sack of senior quarterback Stephen Begen and Hoyle’s second touchdown pass to Fletcher, the Indians stepped on the gas and didn’t look back.

Senior Andrew Martinez returned the second half kickoff up the middle for a touchdown to make it 28-14. Following a quick stop by Valley’s defense in which sophomore Steven Demboski recorded his third sack of the game, junior Desmond Von Tobel rushed for a 72-yard touchdown on the first play of the ensuing offensive drive to break the game open.

It seemed as if the running game was productive regardless of who got the ball, largely in part to a stellar performance by the offensive line.

“I thought [the offensive line] got off the ball and really adjusted to any fronts that were shown to us,” Cusumano said.

Williams bulldozed his way into the endzone for his fourth touchdown of the game late in the third quarter to make it 42-14, a score that would stay put through the final whistle. The workhorse back has picked up right where he left off in 2018, scoring five touchdowns in Valley’s first two games and serving as a main reason for the team’s offensive success thus far.

“We just have to keep working hard in practice,” Williams said. “If we work hard in practice, Friday nights will be easy for us.”

Begen also followed up last week’s strong performance with another solid showing, completing four of six passes for 90 yards and adding 31 yards with his legs.

The Indians will look to build on their momentum next Friday night when they host the Paramus Spartans, who are 1-1 and coming off a 40-13 win over Mahwah. Valley fell to Paramus 48-14 last season.

“[We have to] get back to work, go back to practice, make sure we’re fundamentally sound, correct any mistakes and get ready for next week,” Cusumano said.