Pirates win unbeaten matchup

Football tops unbeaten ND

By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor
   Playing without a couple of its major weapons on offense and defense didn’t seem to hinder the West Windsor-Plainsboro South football team.
   The Pirates overcame injuries to starters David Twamley and Max Merkovitz to top Notre Dame, 44-23, Saturday in a battle of the last two unbeaten teams in the Colonial Valley Conference.
   The win was the fifth straight for the Pirates, who scored a pair of touchdowns on defense and controlled the line of scrimmage against a talented Notre Dame team.
   ”We just had to keep it going,” said junior lineman Zach Hundertmark, who had one of the Pirates’ four interceptions on the day. “Coach (Todd) Smith instills good values on us and tells us to keep going and working hard. Our defensive practices were pretty tough this week. We know that Joe (Leone) is a real good quarterback.
   ”I was surprised by our defensive performance and all the turnovers we got. On offense, Chris Matthews really deserves a lot of credit for both the games that Dave was out.”
   The Pirates got off to a fast start and never looked back in handing the Irish their first loss of the season. An interception by Alex Rohrbach, who was filling in for the injured Twamley on defense, set up the first score — a 32-yard touchdown pass from Connor Farrell to Jeff Riemann on a fourth-and-14 play.
   Notre Dame cut the lead to 7-3 late in the first quarter, but the second quarter was all Pirates. Riemann intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown. Then, two plays later, Hundertmark tipped a pass, which Andrew Neiffer intercepted and returned for a score to make it 21-3. A successful onside kick gave the Pirates the ball right back and eight plays later Farrell connected with Jack Dennehy on a 30-yard touchdown pass for a 28-3 lead.
   ”Coach (Chris) Franco and Coach (Bob) Schurtz did a terrific job preparing those guys on defense this week,” said Smith, whose team will host WW-P North on Saturday. “Those guys were just on another level. It was just a matter of our kids doing the right things and all week at practice I saw our kids doing the right things. I’m real proud of those guys.”
   A Rohrbach field goal between a pair of Notre Dame touchdowns gave the Pirates a 31-17 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Farrell hit Dennehy with another touchdown pass before a Hundertmark interception set up the Pirates’ final touchdown, a 4-yard run by Matthews.
   ”It’s the greatest feeling in the world,” the 6-foot-5, 270 pound Hundertmark said of his interception. “Coach teaches us to always keep our hands up no matter what because you never know what might happen.”
   The Pirates likely did not anticipate as lopsided a win as Saturday’s turned out to be, especially without Twamley. But the players who stepped in did the job and helped the team to a fifth straight win.
   ”We don’t want to make a regular habit of that,” Smith said of all the injuries. “But Alex Rohrbach did a nice job filling in for David on defense. Chris filled in on offense great. I thought Sal Sciortino did a real nice job stepping in there on both sides filling in for Max.
   ”We have a great core group of kids filling in going both ways for us. They’re in such great shape we’re able to take it to these two-platoon teams. All week long we had confidence in Alex. He’s a smart kid and he’s athletic and we felt like he could step in there for Dave.”
   The Pirates, who reached the Central Jersey Group IV championship game last year, are hoping for a return trip to the playoffs this year.
   ”It doesn’t get any easier,” Smith said. “Nottingham will be a great team to play. You can’t count out (WW-P) North because of last year. We have some good football teams left to play. The bottom line is we just have to take care of each game one week at a time.”
   They took care of Notre Dane with a balanced effort on both sides of the ball. The defense finished with four interceptions and three quarterback sacks, while Farrell led the offense with 206 passing and three touchdowns. Matthews added 134 yards filling in for Twamley.