Montclair quarterback Pfeifer notches 3 TDs, Mounties suffer tough defeat at Irvington
The Montclair football team possibly played its best full game so far in the 2022 season.
But its best was not enough on Saturday as the Mounties lost a 22-21 heartbreaker at Irvington, as the Knights scored in the final half-minute of the game and tacked on the two-point conversion.
Montclair dropped to 2-4 on the season and travels to Ridgewood on Friday, Oct. 14, at 6:30 p.m. in another North Jersey Super Football Conference crossover contest in which they hope to end a two-game losing streak.
Despite the loss,n Mounties head coach Jermain Johnson thought his team played its best game against a tough opponent.
"I thought this was the closest we've played for a full game," Johnson said. "We challenged them, and they stepped up to the challenge."
Irvington back Fahmah Toure scored on an eight-yard touchdown run then ran in for the two-point conversion with 24 seconds left in the game for the difference.
After the Knights got the one-point advantage, Montclair received the ball back with 20 seconds remaining, but Mounties junior quarterback Drew Pfeifer could not get the 35 yards needed to give their all-state kicker, Gage Hammond, a shot at a long, game-winning field goal.
The Mounties were 6:46 away from picking up the victory and had Irvington pinned to its own five-yard line.
Although the Knights did themselves no favors with several holding penalties, the Montclair defense could not contain the trio of Kyshir Desir, Adon Shuler and Toure in the final minutes.
It was a combination of not wrapping up any of those three backs and Irvington’s hurry-up offense that wore the Mountie defense down in the waning minutes of the game.
"We have to man up and make the tackles," Johnson said after the game.
He added that the team knew that Irvington would give the ball to their best players, especially Shuler, who will be playing the University of Notre Dame.
"They have very good players, and they made the plays," the coach said.
On the positive side, it was Montclair’s best game against a quality team since the opener against rival West Orange. Recently the squad had struggled from the start against good teams, like Union City and East Orange.
Pfeifer had his best game, completing 8 of 16 pass attempts for 115 yards while running nine times for 85 yards. He ran for two touchdowns and threw for a score.
Montclair appeared headed for a third victory when Pfeifer ran for his second rushing touchdown of the game with 45 seconds remaining in the third quarter. It was a 28-yard dash and was almost identical to his 35-yard rushing touchdown earlier in the quarter.
For Pfeifer the two rushing touchdowns made amends for some miscues in the first half. The junior signal caller threw a pair of interceptions.
After Pfeifer's second rushing touchdown, Hammond kicked the point after to hand the Mounties a 21-7 lead.
Another bright spot was that the Montclair offense scored in the first half, which has been a bugaboo for most of the season.
Pfeifer hit senior wide receiver Isaiah Holm on a three-yard touchdown pass on a third and goal in the first quarter.
In previous games, except against Nutley, the Mounties offense was stagnant in the first 24 minutes.
As it turned out, the biggest change in the game might have been Irvington’s moving away from starting quarterback C.J. Pittman and turning to Shuler in the second half.
In the first half the Montclair defense kept Pittman and the Knights offense pretty much in check, except for a big 52-yard pass to Toure for their lone touchdown in the first half.
The Montclair offense could not get its best running back, Samaj Adams, going, as the Irvington defense put a hold on the senior for most of the game. Adams ran 14 times, but only for 30 yards. The senior did better in the air by catching three passes for 30 yards.
"They knew that they had to stop Samaj," Johnson said.
But he contributed significantly on defense, including recovering a fumble and causing a fumble.
Overall, despite giving up the winning touchdown and two-point conversion, Johnson liked what he saw on defense, especially in the first 24 minutes.
"Our defense played very well in the first half," the coach said.