Westwood Football make Statement, Blank Bernards in Group 2 Semifinals

The Westwood Cardinals (12-0) squared off against the Bernards Mountaineers (12-1) in a battle of undefeated teams in the Group 2 Semifinals at Westwood Regional High School in Westwood, New Jersey.

No. 23 Westwood had cruised past Rutherford in the North Jersey Section 1, Group 2 Final for a second straight sectional title. On the flip side, Bernards defeated Lakeland in an overtime thriller 23-17 in the North Jersey Section 2, Group 2 title game for their first state championship in program history.

On Bernards' second drive in the first quarter, the Mountaineers offense steadily moved the ball up the field and into Westwood territory behind a potent running attack. Bernards faced a fourth and two at the Cardinals' 30-yard line, but an incomplete pass forced a turnover on downs that ended a lengthy 12-play drive lasting over six minutes.

Scoreless after the first quarter, the Cardinals broke the stalemate with less than five minutes in the second quarter on a 23-yard field goal by kicker Sean Morrison.

The Cardinals' defense forced a quick three and out on the Bernards's ensuing offensive possession. Westwood quarterback Robbie Carcich connected on a 23-yard-pass to wide receiver Tommy Bussanich that advanced the down to the Mountaineers 20-yard line.

Westwood utilized a ground and pound running game to push the ball inside the five-yard line. Facing a third down at the three-yard line, Robbie Carcich took the snap, rolled out to his left, and fired a strike to wide receiver Joe Klein in the end zone, extending the Cardinals' advantage to 10-0 with 15 seconds remaining.

In the third quarter, the Mountaineers' defense provided some momentum for the offense, with free safety Max Austin intercepting a pass near midfield. Outside linebacker Terrence Hanratty sacked Westwood quarterback Robbie Carcich and forced a three-and-out. However, Bernards could not take advantage of those plays due to a stifling Cardinals defense.

Once the fourth quarter commenced, Westwood managed to widen their lead. Behind a stout offensive line, the Cardinals churned out yardage on the ground. On second and goal at the two-yard line, running back Steve Klein took the handoff and dove into the end zone for the score, making it 17-0 with six minutes left.

Bernards had one final opportunity to put points up on the scoreboard, but Westwood shut that door on a pass play near the goal line as multiple Cardinals defensive players converged on the Mountaineers wide receiver as the clock hit zero.

Westwood advanced to the Group 2 Final against Rumson Fair-Haven (8-4) on Monday, November 27th, at SHI Stadium (Rutgers University), with kickoff set for 5 p.m.

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