by Andrew Garda

Livingston — It wasn't always pretty, and it wasn't all that smooth, but the Montclair Mounties are in the NJSIAA playoffs.

They guaranteed that when they beat Livingston 33-13 under the lights on Friday, Oct. 25, 2019.

Much like this season, things got off on the wrong foot for the Mounties (4-4) as Livingston (2-6) recovered an onside kick to start the game, and then scored on a 23-yard slant pass to go up 7-0.

Montclair responded when quarterback Michael Robinson hit receiver Donovin Bell for a 94-yard touchdown. A bad snap caused a missed extra point, however, and the Mounties still trailed, 7-6.

Aqeel Plant would give the Mounties a 13-7 lead with a great contested catch just before the end of the first quarter.

That's where the score would sit at halftime, though, as the Mounties offense stalled several times. Miscues and penalties were mostly to blame more than the Lancers defense, and something Robinson said would need to be improved this week before the team faces Irvington at Woodman on Saturday, Nov. 2.

It wasn't just the offense which tripped itself up, but special teams as well. Aside from the missed onside kick and the bad snap on the extra point, there was another poor snap on a punt, which nearly had kicker Gage Hammond tackled back at the MHS 10 yard line.

Luckily, Hammond was quick enough to get to the sideline and bull his way back to the 20 yard line.

The Mounties dodged a bullet a few plays later when Livingston had a touchdown called back on offensive pass interference.

Coming out of halftime, Montclair's defense was solid, and after a partly blocked punt put the Mounties on their own 27, Robinson would execute a picture-perfect read and pull, sending the defense after Jordan Diggs while he and the football went the other way for a 45-yard touchdown.

Bell would strike again at the start of the fourth quarter, this time on defense, when he read a slant play, waited for the quarterback to deliver the ball and then stepped in front of the pass.

He returned the interception 60 yards for his third touchdown of the evening.

Livingston did find their way into the end zone one more time, capping a 97-yard drive with a nice touchdown off a drag route. They would miss the 2-point conversion though, and the game would finish with a score of 33-13.

Montclair now has a week to prepare for Irvington, as they continue to try and tune themselves up for a potential playoff run.

For more details on the Montclair win, as well as quotes from head coach John Fiore, Donovin Bell, and Michael Robinson, check out the print and online editions of the Montclair Local later this week.