Immaculate Conception football: Defense claws, offense sputters in loss to Hawks
In a battle of two bitter rivals, Immaculate Conception's offense did not reach its potential against Hudson Catholic on Saturday afternoon in Montclair.
The Lions’ offense made incremental progress against a quality program, but it was not enough in the 22-10 defeat to the Hawks in a penalty-filled contest that was reminiscent of a similar game between the two teams in 2019 that was won by Immaculate, 39-34.
Immaculate (1-2) scored all of its points via the defense, a safety and a 47-yard fumble recovery by junior defensive tackle Maarad Watson for a touchdown in the fourth quarter in the North Jersey Super Football Conference crossover battle.
After the touchdown, Lions sophomore quarterback Jordan Jenkins hit junior Jasin Shiggs with the two-point conversion. Immaculate was down 22-10 with six minutes remaining in the contest.
But the Lions could not get any closer.
"Overall I think we played very well defensively," Immaculate coach Maurice Lucas said. "If we can get the offense clicking, we will be in good shape."
The Lions’ defense was led by junior defensive tackle Jahide Lesaine, Watson and senior linebacker Marcus Gornowicz, who combined for seven tackles for losses.
Hudson Catholic senior running back Jacob Rodriguez ran 23 times for 96 yards, but the Immaculate defense tackled him nine times behind the line of scrimmage.
"He is a very good back, and I think we did a good job to contain him," Lucas said. "We've been doing a good job stopping the run."
Depth has been an issue on both sides of the ball. Two of the Hudson Catholic touchdowns came on missed coverages with backups in the game. Hawks senior quarterback Christopher Lang hit senior wide receiver Nisere Bell on the two touchdown passes, 48 yards and 31 yards.
"We had a couple blown coverages with players we had to put in to give starters a blow," Lucas said.
On the offensive side, the Lions collected 97 yards on the ground, an improvement in the running game compared to the season opener against Pope John, which they lost, 16-6.
The quarterback position is still a work in progress, Lucas said. Jenkins received the start against Hudson Catholic, but freshman backup Davion Young also saw snaps.
Immaculate takes on St. Joseph by the Sea in an independent game on Saturday, Sept. 17, at Leonia’s Overpeck County Park, where the Lions defeated Dumont last November 26-12 to win the Ivy White Division title.
The contest against St. Joseph by the Sea will be a prep for one of the biggest games of the season. The Sept. 23 game at Cedar Grove could decide the NJSFC National Red title.
Coming into the game against Hudson Catholic, the Lions dominated Newark Collegiate, 56-0, on the road on Sept. 3 for their first win of the season.
The running back combination of senior Eriq Harris and Gornowicz compiled
167 rushing yards and five touchdowns. Gornowicz had six carries for 91 yards and three touchdowns. Jenkins and sophomore Jaluan Hutchins added a rushing touchdown each.
Immaculate Conception Football Schedule
(Dates and times subject to change)
Sept. 17 St. Joe's by the Sea, 1 p.m. (Overpeck Park, Leonia)
Sept. 23 at Cedar Grove, 7 p.m.
Oct. 1 Glen Ridge, 1 p.m.
Oct. 7 at Immaculata, 7 p.m.
Oct. 15 Shabazz, 1 p.m.
Oct. 28 at Morris Catholic, 7 p.m.