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The Quill

The Quill

The Quill

Knolls vs. Hills Football Game (Knolls Makes it 4 Straight)


It was a brisk, overcast, autumn afternoon on Saturday, October 7th at Gifford Field, home of the Morris Hills Scarlet Knights. The stage was set for the annual MHRD rivalry game, between the Morris Hills Scarlet Knights and the Morris Knolls Golden Eagles. Knolls entered the game with a 3-2 record having won their last two games versus Morristown and West Morris, respectively. Unlike Knolls, Hills had not been so lucky this season, having lost their first five games, most recently being trounced by Warren Hills 21-0. The last time these two met, Knolls demolished Hills in a 30-6 blowout victory. The last time that Hills beat Knolls was during the 2018 season, five years ago. Though this rivalry has been extremely one-sided in recent years, the excitement for this game was at an all-time high. This was partly due to the ongoing “battle” between the Instagram fan pages of each school, Knolls Holes and Redzone, all week leading up to the game. 

The game kicked off at 2 PM and from there, Knolls’ domination began. The scoring began with a 19-yard touchdown run by Knolls’ senior running back, Tyler Brookes. Brookes came into the game with 2 touchdowns and 344 yards on 58 carries this season and padded those numbers in this game by rushing for 106 yards on only 12 carries. Knolls scored again in the first quarter on a 29-yard breakaway run by junior running back Jayden Koger. This was the start of what would turn out to be an impressive breakout performance by Koger who ran for 83 yards, visiting the endzone twice. Koger came into the game with only 41 rushing yards on the year but played a key role in this game, stepping up for Knolls’ leading rusher, junior Justin Hanson, who was out with an injury. Even without Hanson, Knolls had no problem running all over Hills’ defense compiling 250 total ground yards. After a pair of rushing touchdowns, Knolls entered the second quarter with a commanding 14-0 lead over Hills. 

Hills’ fortunes on defense began to change in the second quarter as they held the Golden Eagles to just a 33-yard field goal by Knolls’ junior kicker Jake Merlucci. Merlucci came into the game perfect having gone 6 for 6 on field goal attempts this year and kept his streak going by converting his only field goal attempt this game. While Hills’ defense started to find some success, this was not the case for their offense as Knolls’ defense continued to impose its will on Hills’ sophomore quarterback Rocco Marchese. Marchese has had a rough start to the season compiling just 148 total yards throughout Hills’ first five games. Marchese ended the half with just 1 yard for passing on 14 attempts while being intercepted twice. At the half, Knolls held a 17-0 lead over Hills. 

After a performance by the marching band during halftime, the third quarter kicked off, and play resumed. The third quarter was highlighted by a 20-yard touchdown run by Jayden Koger, his second of the game. However, Knolls failed to convert the extra point.. This left the score 23-0 with Knolls in front after three quarters of play. 

The fourth quarter was more of the same as Hills’ offense either punted or turned the ball over on every drive and Knolls’ offense was able to put the ball in the endzone again on an 11-yard run by dual-threat quarterback Mike Knaack. Knaack, Knolls’ senior quarterback, came into the game with a 34% completion percentage, 162 yards, and 1 passing touchdown on the year coupled with 4 touchdowns and 143 yards on the ground. Against Hills, Knaack went 6/10 for 96 passing yards while also rushing for 23 yards on 7 attempts, including his 4th quarter touchdown to cap off Knolls’ 30-0 blowout victory. 

With this win, Knolls makes it four straight victories over Hills. This win must have been especially sweet for Knolls’ longtime head coach Bill Regan as he will be retiring after this season and will be able to go out on top against rival Morris Hills. Knolls will look to build on their success against Hills this week against Randolph, while Hills will continue to look for their first win this week against Mendham.

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