Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Rutherford's Aponte Makes the Big Play

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Rutherford's Aponte Makes the Big Play

Article excerpt

RUTHERFORD – The film may show Tyler Aponte got beat, but he and Rutherford didn't lose.

Aponte, a senior defensive back, intercepted a pass in the end zone to lift the Bulldogs to a 14-7 overtime victory in the NJIC Championship game Friday night at Tryon Field.

Aponte's play was the climax of a game that was impacted heavily by the wind blowing heavily across the field, and pitted two strong programs against one another that never backed down.

Rutherford's win ends the Aviators 18-game win streak, which had been the longest active run in North Jersey.

"It felt unbelievable, just looking up in the stands and seeing everyone go crazy, I will remember this for the rest of my life," said Aponte about the final play.

Hasbrouck Heights had just missed a 41 yard field goal on the last play of regulation. It was the first field goal try by the Aviators this season. That sent the game to overtime.

The Aviators won the toss and elected to start on defense in overtime. Rutherford would go ahead 14-7 on a five-yard pass from Kyle Russell to Abellany Mendez. The extra point was good.

On the first Aviators play, quarterback James Klenk dropped back to pass. He had a receiver in the end zone open.

"Did I get beat? It was a trick play. As soon as I saw it I jumped it immediately. I don't think I got beat at all," said Aponte. "I was in cover three, so I had deep third. It was in the middle of the field, so technically it was my guy, but as soon as I saw it, I knew I had to jump it."

"Tyler is one of our best defensive backs. He's a two-year starter for us," said Rutherford coach Andy Howell. "I can't really fault him for kind of biting on it. He was in a soft zone coverage. He clearly got beat. He was playing the run. You have to give him credit to not give up on the ball and hustling his butt off to go up and make the play."

Klenk threw a strike on target, but it may have been held up a bit by the wind. Aponte was able to recover in time to intercept it and start a wild celebration.

"Waited maybe one second too long [to throw it], but you know what, you learn from these things," said Hasbrouck Heights coach Nick Delcalzo. "Now, we're in the state playoffs and let's go. We have to learn from this. …

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