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Gillies sparks River Dell to 42-21 win against Northern Valley Demarest

Jack Gillies threw for 230 yards and four touchdowns as River Dell defeated Northern Valley Demarest.

River Dell Golden Hawks senior quarterback Jack Gillies said that this was one of the best weeks of practice. Shaking off an early interception against Northern Valley Demarest on the road, Gilles answered back tossing two touchdown passes. The Golden Hawks led the Norsemen 21-7 at halftime.

When it seemed River Dell would pull away in the second half, Demarest blasted out of the gates. After losing arguably their best player in Jack Mottola to a knee injury at the end of the first half, the offense marched down the field in eight plays and 78 yards that consumed 3:14 of the clock. Norsemen running back Ben Marinaccio capped off the drive with a three-yard touchdown and second of the game.

The shift in momentum continued on the ensuing series with defensive back Jake Benishay picking off a Gilles pass at the Demarest 41-yard line. Demarest’s offensive line won the battle in the trenches on this series opening up gaping holes for Marinaccio (23 carries for 105 yards) gaining 32 yards on the ground. This set up first and goal at the seven. On second and goal, Owen Finetto busted into the end zone tying up the contest with six minutes remaining.

With the Norsemen student section and fans in a frenzy, Golden Hawks sophomore running back Will Fletcher silenced them breaking off a spectacular 64-yard touchdown run. Infused with energy from that highlight-reel touchdown, the River Dell defense forced a quick three and out. Starting with excellent starting field position at the Demarest 48-yard line, Gillies went right back to work connecting with Mike Sirico for a second time on the night with less than two minutes left in the third quarter.

“It’s just about staying hot and it obviously showed on the field,” said Gillies. “Coach (Nimphius) always talks about spreading the ball around and trying to get involved. It definitely works on Friday nights. We have trust with each other and if the ball is up in the air, they are going to get it.”

“We’re a bunch of fighters, never going no matter what the score is. Just trying to come back and keep a positive attitude on the sidelines and on the field and it pays off. Will(Fletcher) is a young guy and we are starting to get him more in the offense. He made a big play and should see more of him coming up in the future.”

In the fourth quarter, Demarest was pinned deep inside their territory at the five-yard line. River Dell junior linebacker Ethan Kupfer extended the advantage to 36-21 sacking Norseman quarterback Andrew Argenziano in the end zone for the safety. Kupfer was not finished making an impact, returning the ball to the Demarest 42-yard line on the ensuing punt. Gillies salted the game away six plays later hooking up with Joe Mellet for a second time, lofting a perfect 21-yard pass in the far left corner of the end zone. With the victory, River Dell improved to 3-0 on the season.

Gillies finished 13 of 18 for 230 yards and four touchdown passes. Sirico caught five passes for 107 yards and two scores, while Mellet had six catches for 96 yards and two scores. He also picked up an interception on defense. On the ground, Fletcher gained 104 yards on seven rushes.

Head Coach DJ Nimphius on the win: “We’re inconsistent but getting better and working on it all the time. We made a couple of great catches but also dropped two or three touchdowns in the first half. The coaching staff did a wonderful job. Austin Berringer, our line coach who played for us and three-year starter in college, has taken that next step as a coach and future head coach as I’m concerned.”

“We finally hit the crease and Will (Fletcher) hit it pretty good. He looks like his older brother Dave on that play and he’s only a sophomore.”

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Sunil Sunder Raj

Since July of 2014 Sunil Sunder Raj has been with In The Zone. Sunil has experience covering minor league baseball, high school and college sports. A beat writer for the Rockland Boulders for six years, Ramapo College men’s basketball for four years, NJIT men’s basketball and Seton Hall women’s basketball. Now focusing on feature articles about athletes, coaches and sports media professionals. A graduate of Ramapo College of New Jersey with a bachelor of arts degree in journalism.
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