GLEN ROCK, N.J. — Glen Rock and Hawthorne's varsity football teams play each other every year, but rarely with as much at stake -- or as much excitement -- as on Saturday.
The cheers continued from the opening kickoff into overtime, with Glen Rock winning 35-34 in one of the more dramatic recent installments of the rivalry.It sent the Panthers to the state championship in two weeks against Mahwah's Thunderbirds.
"We've been playing [Hawthorne] since we were all in Pee Wee football," said Fred Pulzello, whose son plays for Glen Rock, "so we know who the other players are. We've had a great rivalry over the years."
Hawthorne High School student Jack Hines said he knew it would be an amazing game.
"It gets pretty intense," Hines said. "I'm glad I got to come to this one."
The Bears led 28-21 lead with 35.8 seconds left, but quarterback Matt Schlett came right back with first a 35-yard pass to the three yard line and then a short touchdown throw.
The Bears again went ahead in overtime, 34-28, but the point after kick following a running touchdown was missed, giving Glen Rock its chance.
Soon after, senior wide receiver Tommy Pulzello caught a 25-yard TD pass from Schlett to tie the game.
Kicker Robert Ray hit the extra point, sending Glen Rock to the North 1, Group 2 finals in two weeks against Mahwah -- who beat Pequannock, 28-7, Friday night.
The win also gave the Panthers a 7-4 mark against the Bears the past decade.
Eric Schlett -- whose son threw for four touchdowns -- said he wanted to see both sides play well given what was at stake.
"The rivalry is always big every year," he said, "but this is for a bigger goal than bragging rights."
Jay La Vorne found himself on both sides. He lives in Glen Rock, but his son Jayson is Hawthorne's defense coach.
"Since my son is a coach and I've gone to every game since he was 8 years old, I kind of have to root for Hawthorne," La Vorne said. "But Glen Rock is still in my heart."
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