SPF loses their lead late against Cedar Grove in first game under the lights


Joe Kaplan

Friday Night Lights, as many would call it, arrived for the first time ever on Oct. 23 at SPFHS. The scene was unforgettable. Ten years ago, nobody would think this event was possible. The football team and the fans knew that this was a huge opportunity to come up big in the school’s first football game under lights. Four high powering lights hovering over the football field, a lively fanbase in the background, and a powering light ceremony before the game,  all that was needed was a dominant win to sum up the night. 
Unfortunately, the Raiders came up short against Cedar Grove 42-38 in a thrilling game where at one point they held a 16-point lead. 
On their first possession, Cedar Grove came out dominating. The drive began with a large gain off of a screen pass on third down, and ended with a deep ball down the sideline for a touchdown. On the following Cedar Grove possession, the Raiders held them to only a field goal.  
From there, SPF took control of the game. Speedy senior Shawn Martin set the tone and exploded for a 95 yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Martin’s touchdown inspired the Raiders defense on the ensuing possession as they forced a three and out. 
At the start of the second quarter, Cedar Grove fumbled, and the Raiders capitalized as fans saw senior Christian Piesch show off his yards after the catch skills, taking a short pass to the end zone. The score was 14-10. 
The Raiders continued their dominant first half performance, as junior Isaiah Nathaniel blocked a punt setting senior quarterback Hayden Widder and the Raiders offense in great field position. Widder connected with Piesch for his second touchdown of the game on a phenomenal catch by Piesch next to the sideline. Martin’s kickoff return was not his only highlight of the game. In the second quarter, he broke loose – breaking tackles and juking out defenders – for a 42 yard touchdown run. 
Although SPF had most of the momentum throughout the first half, they let up a crucial passing touchdown with only six seconds left at the end of the half. At halftime the score was 26-16. 
Shawn Martin added to his performance as he went off for another rushing touchdown in the third quarter to make the score 32-16. 
Cedar Grove climbed back into the game with an eight yard touchdown run. On the next possession, Cedar Grove held SPF to a turnover on downs and proceeded to score a 25 yard passing touchdown. This cut the Raiders lead to four with five minutes to go in the third quarter.  The score was 32-28. 
SPF could not gain back the momentum after that, when they crucially gave up another touchdown. Many thought that once SPF recovered a fumble, there would be a chance that they would close it out. Well, SPF then punted the ball away, which led to a short touchdown pass for Cedar Grove. SPF never truly had any offensive power throughout the rest of the game. Whenever they gained possession, it sooned turned into a turnover. 
There was a chance at the end late in the game when Cedar Grove fumbled inside the redzone, but all was lost when Widder threw another interception to seal a win for the visitors. 
SPF had one of it’s best offensive performances in a very long time. It was a great experience for fans to enjoy. Having lights beam onto the football field at night was a positive sign not just for this season, but for seasons to come. 
SPF looks to bounce back from an 0-2 start as they travel to Linden next Friday, Oct. 30, at 7 p.m..