Elmwood Park grabs six turnovers to hold off Fenton
Updated: October 16, 2012 12:51AM
ELMWOOD PARK — Elmwood Park’s defense forced six turnovers Friday and secured a spot in the state playoffs with a 24-20 victory over Fenton on senior night.
Despite five interceptions and a fumble recovery, the host Tigers (6-2, 2-1 Metro Suburban) had a scare after they went ahead 24-12 with 1 minute, 41 seconds to play. The Bison (2-6, 1-2) returned the ensuing kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown on a trick play and completed a 2-point conversion to pull within four points with 1:27 to go. The Tigers recovered the onside kick, however, and ran out the clock for the victory.
“We’ve been thinking about this opportunity since we were freshman — making the playoffs and winning the conference,” senior offensive lineman Connor Murphy said. “We’ve always talked about what it would be like to play in the state tournament and we’ve accomplished one goal and can be conference champs if we beat Ridgewood next week.”
Elmwood Park never trailed, and after a scoreless first quarter got on the board on the first play of the second when senior quarterback Patrick McNulty hooked up with Chad Ramiro on an 8-yard touchdown pass. A 20-yard field goal by David Benavidez made it 10-0 at halftime.
Every time Fenton appeared to be moving toward a score, the Elmwood Park defense came up with a big play to halt the drive. Junior Trent Woods had a pair of picks, while seniors Aaron Cook, Chad Ramiro and Carlos Sandoval each had one interception.
The Tigers received two touchdowns in the second half from senior James Gonzalez, who burst in from the 5- and 1-yard line. Benavidez returned from an ankle injury and racked up 105 yards on 25 carries, while Gonzalez ran for 84 yards on 15 carries.
Tigers head coach Luis Arroyo credited his offensive line with doing an incredible job all year no matter who carried the ball.
“These kids (three running backs) have not been completely healthy all year long,” he said. “One guy goes down, the next guy goes in, he goes down, but we never panicked, never got nervous because every time we sent the next guy in he did the job. You have to give a lot of credit to our offensive line. These Tigers are warriors. No matter who was in there they did the job. This team, the tailbacks, the line, they all have so much heart. Today was a real storybook win for this squad. I can’t be more proud of these kids.”
Pick up your local Pioneer Press newspaper on Thursday to read more about the Elmwood Park football team.