PV bounces back with win over Bergenfield

Valley forces five turnovers in victory

Pascack+Valley%27s+defense+lines+up+against+Bergenfield.+PV+took+down+the+bears+by+a+score+of+34-8+on+Saturday+afternoon.

Spencer Goldstein

Pascack Valley’s defense lines up against Bergenfield. PV took down the bears by a score of 34-8 on Saturday afternoon.

BJ McGrane, Sports Editor

Pascack Valley pulled away in the battle of turnovers early in Saturday afternoon’s game against Bergenfield, picking off the first two passes from Bears quarterback John Gallagher. PV would not take its foot off the gas pedal, winning by a final score of 34-8 on the road while notching a total of five turnovers.

The win was quite the turnaround from last week, a game in which PV turned the ball over four times en route to a loss that featured its own defense allowing north of five touchdowns.

Senior David Jones made his presence felt against the Bears, logging a hat trick of interceptions by the end of this one, in addition to a fumble recovery and a receiving touchdown of his own that put Valley up 28-0 towards the end of the first half.

Jones and coach Len Cusumano attribute much of the defensive success against Bergenfield to the game plan and the work that the team put in during practice all week.

“It helps that we worked all week [in practice],” Jones said. “We practiced hard, that’s about it.”

“[The defense] trusted the game plan, and trusted each other and the secondary to make the plays,” Cusumano said. “They didn’t second guess themselves, and really went out there and got the job done.”

Seemingly nothing was bouncing the right way for the Bears, with Valley recovering its own kickoff in the second quarter. The kick gave Bergenfield some trouble deep in its own territory until – guess who – Jones arrived to recover the loose ball.

Jones was just getting started. The offense fed the hot hand with Traina hitting Jones with a 23-yard touchdown pass on the opening play of PV’s subsequent drive.

Not only did Jones’ receiving touchdown stretch Valley’s lead to four possessions, but it was also the first career passing touchdown for senior quarterback Zach Traina.

“[Traina and I] have been developing this chemistry since our freshman year, and it’s all clicking now,” Jones said.

“[Traina] is composed. He has a lot more confidence and trust in his offensive line,” Cusumano said. “He just went out there a little more relaxed, and [understood] what he is capable of. He made the plays and came up big for us.”

Even in a moment that served as a career milestone for himself, Traina still made sure to give credit to his teammates up front.

“It felt great, but I have to owe it up to the [offensive line],” Traina said. “[They] did great [today].”

PV’s offense had its way in both the running game and the passing game, as Valley scored three of its touchdowns on the ground, two from senior Mike Solazzo and one from junior Nick Messina.

Solazzo and Messina shared the ball more than against Ramapo last week. In a ten-play Valley drive that ended in Solazzo’s second touchdown, he carried the ball five times as opposed to Messina’s four. On that same drive, Solazzo racked up 28 yards while Messina gained 29.

No matter who was carrying the ball for PV, holes seemed to open up, a testament to the offensive line and the running backs themselves.

“We expect all of our running backs to be great, physical runners,” Cusumano said. “It obviously all happens up front with our offensive line. I think the offensive line did well getting off the football today.”

While Valley’s offense was clicking, the turnovers by the Bears made it difficult for its offense to get any type of momentum going early.

After only completing one of his four first quarter passing attempts, Gallagher and the Bears got the offense moving early in the second quarter with the help of running back Elijah Davidson. Serving as Bergenfield’s lead back, Elijah Davidson carried the ball nine times for a total of 84 yards and the Bears’ only touchdown of the game, breaking away on a 64-yard run before being taken down inside Valley’s five-yard line. He would eventually punch it in, getting his team on the board with just under five minutes left to play.

Even after getting the passing attack going early in the second half with three straight completions, two to receiver Michael Davidson for a total of 16 yards, Gallagher was picked off by Jones for his third and final interception.

With Bergenfield’s offensive struggles, this game was over before halftime, as Pascack Valley took a 38-0 lead into the break after Traina connected with junior Dylan Hutchinson for his second passing touchdown of the day after being set up by Jones’ second pick of the day.

 

Although Valley forced Bergenfield into a plethora of turnovers, Traina and the offense were able to hold onto the ball, not allowing any takeaways for the Bears’ defense.

“We just focused on knowing the situation,” Traina said. “[Knowing when] to not throw picks, and when to hold it and run downfield.”

Pascack Valley’s victory over Bergenfield moves its record to 1-1 on the season, with some games lying ahead with high stakes. River Dell – PV’s next opponent – pulled off a shocking upset Friday night, defeating Ramapo by a score of 22-21 on a game-winning two-point conversion. This loss ended a 27-game winning streak for Ramapo, and gives River Dell an immeasurable amount of momentum going forward.

“[We will] make sure we’re sharp during the week, condition effectively, make sure we’re strong,” Cusumano said. “Just being fundamentally sound.”

“[We have to] work hard, be perfect in practice, and be perfect in the game,” Jones said.