It doesn’t matter to the beauty of Passaic Tech.
Over the years, the program’s calling card has been a stout defense backed by a strong running attack. He followed that recipe through the first three games of the season, with the defense playing at a high level and surrendering just 10 points in those games.
That approach doesn’t always lead to a polished, standout performance on the field, as evidenced by a 6-3 win over Union City two weeks ago. And facing their toughest challenge to date against West Orange, ranked No. 13 in the NJ.com Top 20, the Bulldogs didn’t expect their usual performance to look like.
At the end of the day, the important thing was to come out victorious.
Passaic Tech’s defense put together a flawless performance — save for a late touchdown save — and the running game controlled the clock and helped keep the ball away from West Orange. He went 12-6 for Passaic Tech in West Orange, improving his record to a perfect 4-0.
“In 29 years, I don’t remember anyone saying we were pretty,” Passaic Tech coach Matt Demarest said. But when it comes down to it, the kids play hard. They like to play football. They love to play with each other. They don’t care about pretty. We let everyone have whatever stats they want. Our kids love playing soccer and they love being here together and feeding off each other’s energy. Ugly, beautiful, a win is a win and we’ll take it either way.”
Defensive linemen Jahmir Rogers and Kaiden Rex, as well as linebacker Arom Mendoza, among others, held West Orange to just 152 yards – 57 of those yards coming on a late touchdown run by West Orange’s Sabor Kareem with 1:56 left in the game.
Rex was especially responsible for two big plays on both sides of the ball. He opened the scoring in the first quarter when he hauled in a pass from wide receiver Eric Jackson to give his team a 6-0 lead.
West Orange (2-1) then got a good break when Passaic Tech’s Quaran Alli went in on a header to take the lead with three minutes left and needed an extra point. Even more fortunate for the Bulldogs was the relentless drive of Rex, who chased down the loose ball and found it at the West Orange 1-yard line.
On the next play, Travon Dye gave Passaic Tech a key insurance coverage.
“I just wanted it. I wanted it more than anything, I wanted this win more than anything,” Rex said of the sale. Me and my friends, we want more than anything. This year will be our year,” he said.
While most of the credit goes to the defense, Passaic Tech’s ability to run the ball was just as important. While the offense didn’t put up many numbers on the scoreboard, it was slow and steady throughout the game, picking up fewer yards on the ground at a time.
That kept the ball away from West Orange and kept the defense fresh from a dynamic receiver and defense in Sabor Kareem, who had just three catches in the game.
Brothers Trashon and Travon Dye ran the ball effectively all game, Trashon finishing with 160 yards on 21 carries while Travon gained 35 yards on nine carries — most of which came late in the game.
“We are fierce. We’re from the inner city,” Trasson Dye said. “That’s all we dream of. We dream of games like this and coming up and beating a team like this. All their guys were out here, and we loved it. We love the atmosphere and we love the competition. One of our offensive linemen, No. 77 (Jahmir Rodgers), got a nosebleed, blood all over his shirt. He spilled, but that shows our strength – he wiped it off and got back into the game.
Although there are some missed opportunities to learn from — such as West Orange’s big goal-line stop on the final play of the first half, which would have ultimately put Passaic Tech up by two points — it’s always better. To learn from victory.
Although, in fact, it is not a perfect performance.
“It was very important,” Travon Dye said. “West Orange is a good team and they have a lot of Division 1 kids. We don’t have it to show for it, but we’ve got Division One heart. In front of these people, they are dogs. They fight hard, they control the clock well and we get the job done.
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