Paramus High School hosted Lakeland Regional in their first home game of the season on Friday night and it was a nail biter. The Spartans came away with a 37-36 win after a frightening fourth quarter.
“I spoke with my staff at halftime and we were saying that we had a funny feeling that this one would come down to the wire,” said Paramus head coach Dan Sabella.
And that it did.
Trailing 33-21 with just over eight minutes remaining, the Spartans turned the ball over in their own half of the field and gave Lakeland a chance to put the game on ice.
Lakeland’s quarterback threw a quick slant pass to a receiver out wide right. Spartan’s defensive back Darious House stepped in front of the receiver, picked the ball off and was gone. Paramus now trailed 33-27 with 7:55 remaining in the game.
“I really wanted to make a play for my team and I owed them,” said House. "I read the quarterback’s play action because he looked over at the receiver. I just stepped in front of it and saw green in front of me.”
The Spartans tried an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff and were able to recover it. A few snaps later, the Spartans were in the end zone again and leading 34-33 with 6:56 left on the clock.
Lakeland continued to run the ball well and drove down field doing so. Lakeland kicked a field goal and went ahead 36-34 with under two minutes left.
The real magic in this comeback came on the Spartans' final drive when they overcame two fourth-down-and-long situations. The first was a first-and-14 completion from Tyler Smith to Michael Mimmo for a first down. Mimmo was hit right on the ball just a moment after catching it and did an excellent job to hang on.
Smith was outstanding on the final drive and led his Spartans into field goal range.
Kicker Matt Alpher came out with just a few seconds left and nailed a 29-yard field goal and sent the Spartan fans wild.
“I went out there and I was just focusing on keeping my hips straight on the kick and I did what I had to do, “ said Alpher. “I couldn’t even hear a thing. It was exhilarating and painful when everyone jumps on you but it’s a great feeling. The best feeling I’ve had in a while.”
Paramus is now 1-1 on the season and will host Northern Highlands on Friday evening.