The Game at a Glance: After a scoreless first half, the Paramus offense came alive, aided by a couple of turnovers, and the defense stayed strong to beat Old Tappan, 19-0 in the first round of the North Jersey Section 1 Group 3 playoffs.
First Half Highlights: The first quarter was mostly two drives - one from each team. Paramus opened the game with six plays in three minutes, before punting. Old Tappan then went almost nine minutes on fourteen plays, making it as far as the Paramus 34, before punting with twenty-eight seconds left in the quarter.
After exchanging punts in the second quarter, Old Tappan had another lengthy drive of nearly seven minutes, consisting of eleven plays, reaching the Paramus 41, before punting.
Second Half Highlights: Old Tappan's first drive was cut short when Darius House of Paramus jumped in front of the Old Tappan receiver for the interception on the Paramus 39. On the ensuing play, quarterback Tyler Smith lateralled to wide receiver Michael Mimmo, who then threw down the field to Stephen Regalbuto for 53 yards down to the 8. An Old Tappan penalty brought it to the 4 and then Regalbuto bulled his way through the middle for a score on the following play and it was 7-0. Old Tappan drove late in the third quarter, all on runs by John Trainor, but turned it over on downs at the Paramus 36 with 26 seconds left in the quarter.
Paramus went on a drive that consumed six minutes and thirteen plays, ending when Regalbuto went in from the one for the score, making it 13-0 with 6:32 left. The Paramus defense forced another turnover when Dwight Wise hit the quarterback, forcing a fumble that was recovered by the Spartans on the 29 of Old Tappan. On fourth down and seven from the 26, Smith found Mimmo over the middle for the score with five minutes left.
Play Of The Game: The option pass from Mimmo to Regalbuto set up the first score and got Paramus rolling.
Game Balls: Regalbuto scored two touchdowns and made the key reception that set up the first score. Tozzi played a tough game at fullback and linebacker. Smith and Mimmo didn't have a big statistical day, but connected on one score and set up the opening score. House also had the key interception that preceded the opening score. Wise's forced fumble killed any chance Old Tappan had of getting back into the game.
Paramus head coach Dan Sabella - "This is what makes you appreciate coaching, to see it come together, to see kids get better every week, and see the team get better every week. That's what makes our jobs real gratifying. We've been to the semi-finals for the fifth time in six years and it's not about getting to this game anymore. Old Tappan's defense had us real frustrated in the first half. It took us a while to get going up front. We got some big turnovers to help us. They're a good football team and it feels good to get the win on their field. The option pass was worked on in practice and we needed something at that point and the kids executed - sophomore to sophomore to sophomore."
Paramus running back Stephen Regalbuto - "We started out 0-2 and we didn't even think we were going to have a shot at the playoffs. We turned it up, practiced hard every day, and now we're in the semi-finals. (On the option pass) We designed the play in practice; our receiver (Mimmo) would throw the ball, I would fake blocking, release for the pass, and he hit me. We drove the ball for my second score, where I got the toss; I looked outside, and then cut back up, and lowered my shoulder at the goal line."
Paramus fullback/linebacker Matt Tozzi - "We were 0-2 and people said we were not going to be anything this year. We took the phrase '0-2, what are you going to do?' and we're showing everyone what Paramus is all about. The defense stepped up and it's good to get the goose egg tonight."
Paramus quarterback Tyler Smith - "(On the option pass) We were running the screen a lot and the defense was up on the line. They were anticipating it and stopping it, so we had to change things. We needed a big play to start the offense and that's what it did. (On the fourth quarter touchdown pass) I dropped back and I saw him get the separation needed, he made an amazing catch, and got into the end zone."
Paramus wide receiver Michael Mimmo - "(On the option pass) In practice, I was messing it up by getting close to the line, but tonight I just focused on getting back, getting depth, and reading the defense. The defense came up and he was wide open. (On the fourth quarter touchdown pass) The ball was coming and he put it right above the defender where he couldn't get it. I just jumped and caught the ball."