When Hillside returned to South River last Saturday it was the Comets who were undefeated this time.
Also unlike last year’s game the score was much closer when the final period commenced.
South River quarterback Michael DeSantis scored on a three-yard run in the fourth quarter to pull his team to within 14-13. However, his extra point attempt was blocked by Hillside senior Boris Nicolas-Paul.
That was the impetus Hillside needed to forge ahead.
The Comets responded by scoring the game’s final 26 points, with four different players – including Army-bound Nicolas-Paul – reaching the end zone.
Perhaps Hillside’s beat quarter of the season propelled it to a convincing 40-13 win at 3-2 South River in one of this season’s Union County vs. Middlesex County crossover contests.
In the first round of last year’s Central Jersey, Group 2 playoffs, Hillside downed a 9-0 South River squad 28-7, ending South River’s season at 9-1. Hillside went on to win Central Jersey, Group 2 for the first time and finished 9-3.
Now the Comets are 6-0 for the first time in a long time and are riding a 10-game-winning streak overall.
“It was a dog-fight with those guys,” third-year Hillside head coach Barris Grant said. “Last year South River was undefeated when we surprised them, so the shoe was on the other foot this time.
“We crushed their hopes last year and they had us at home again this year, so we knew they weren’t going to be happy.”
South River senior Steven Lakatos scored on a seven-yard run in the third quarter and the extra point that followed by DeSantis made it 14-7.
Scoring the final four touchdowns for Hillside were senior Shadon Willis on a pass from Gavin Melendez, senior Brian Ugwu and junior James Louis (80-yard) on runs and Nicolas-Paul on a 50-yard interception return.
Scoring Hillside’s first two touchdowns were junior Nahree Biggins on a pass from Melendez and Louis on a 10-yard run.
“Melendez had a great day, completing 14 of 16 passes,” Grant said.
A junior in his first year as the starting quarterback, Melendez threw for 260 yards and two touchdowns.
“This was similar to our Roselle game,” Grant said.
Hillside defeated Roselle 35-7 at Rahway River Park, coming back from a 7-6 halftime deficit. The Comets scored 22 points in the third quarter to pull away.
The Comets will return to Rahway River Park this Saturday to face North Plainfield for the first time since 2011. The Canucks are 1-6 and coming off a 32-14 home win over Johnson.