Vikings Lose to Minutemen in Opening Round of North Jersey Group 3 Regional Crossover Tourney
MENDHAM, NJ – For the second time in the last three years, Voorhees took on Mendham in a Regional Crossover contest. Two years ago, the Vikings traveled to Morris County and lost to the Minutemen (31-13). This time, Voorhees, the 4th seed in the 2023 NJSIAA North Jersey Group 3 Crossover Tourney, visited top-seeded Mendham with the winner advancing to the final against River Dell, a 40-26 winner over Snyder of Jersey City.
The game started with some promise for Voorhees. On the second play from scrimmage, the Vikings ripped off a big play as senior QB, Isaac Levitan ran right, and then upfield along the Voorhees sideline into the Mendham red zone. However, the Vikings couldn’t finish the drive.
Instead of getting the ball in the end zone, the Vikes were hampered by miscues and penalties. The Vikes ultimately turned the ball over on downs after Mendham’s Cole Capuzzi made a tremendous defensive play by knocking away a pass to the end zone with 8:45 left in the first.
The Minutemen then proceeded to take over the contest. With a solid ground attack led by Capuzzi and Kevin King, Mendham scored the first 21 points of the contest and led by as much as 35-7 in the fourth quarter. Voorhees senior RB, Brandon Kurzeja rushed for two fourth-quarter touchdowns to make the game more respectable, but Mendham advanced with a 35-21 victory.
Mendham rushed 49 times for 409 yards, or about 8.3 yards per carry. Capuzzi led the Minutemen on the ground with 21 carries for 160 yards, or just under 8 yards per rush. King chipped in by rushing 17 times for 150 yards or about 9 yards per carry. King finished with 4 TDs while Capuzzi added a score. Eight different players carried the ball for Mendham including QB Cam Parrinello (3 rushes for 26 yards), Zio Sullivan (3 carries for 24 yards), and Ryan Raimondo (2 rushes for 44 yards).
Parrinello also completed 2 passes for 28 yards. Levitan completed 3 of 7 for 10 yards. Levitan also rushed 10 times for 98 yards and a second-quarter TD that briefly closed the gap to 21-7. Kurzeja rushed 13 times for 96 yards, or about 7.4 yards per carry. As a team, Voorhees managed to run the ball fairly well with 214 yards on 29 carries, or about 7.4 yards per rush. The problem was that the Vikings couldn’t stop Mendham’s rushing attack.
The Minutemen were very deceptive with handoffs, counters, and even a little bit of option. Mendham’s offense made it quite difficult to pick up the ball. In addition, the Minutemen defense made some big plays as well. After getting a score to open the game with a 7-0 lead, Mendham got an interception from Capuzzi on Voorhees’ next offensive play from scrimmage and returned it deep into Viking territory. Several plays later, King was in the end zone for a 14-0 lead.
King then added another score on a toss sweep to the right side putting the Minutemen up 21-0 with 8:41 left in the second quarter. Mendham stopped the Vikings again and got the ball back deep in their own territory when Voorhees’ defense forced a turnover as Travis Cryan recovered a fumble. The Vikings forced three turnovers in the contest. Cryan and Matteo Traumatola each had a fumble recovery while Justin Wistuba collected an interception.
Following the fumble recovery, Levitan rushed up the middle on a keeper for a TD to close the gap to 21-7 with around five minutes left in the second quarter. Mendham quickly responded though with another score that pushed the lead back up to 21 points.
King capped the scoring drive with an elusive run that developed off a sweep to the right, and then he cut back to his left and sprinted past several Voorhees defenders for the score. Placekicker John Gogerty, who converted all 5 of his extra points, tacked on the extra point for a 28-7 lead with 1:49 remaining in the second.
The score remained that way as both teams went to halftime. Mendham then took the second half kickoff, and put together another solid drive that was capped by King’s fourth TD of the game for a 35-7 lead. The Minutemen maintained their 28-point lead into the fourth quarter when the Voorhees offense finished with a flourish. The Vikings’ drive began just outside their own 5-yard line with 10:07 left to play.
Voorhees proceeded to establish some offensive momentum and confidence with 95 yards in 11 plays that only took up 4:11 in time. Kurzeja capped the drive by finding a hole on the left side and scampered into the end zone to close the gap to 35-13 with 5:56 left.
On Mendham’s ensuing drive, the Vikings Brandon Aulert popped the ball loose and forced a fumble that was recovered by Traumatola. Voorhees then quickly scored again on its next offensive play from scrimmage as Kurzeja took the handoff and found another hole on the left side, where he proceeded toward the Voorhees sideline, and then into the end zone.
Levitan then ran in the two-point conversion to close the gap to 35-21 with under four minutes to play. Voorhees tried to get the ball back with an onside kick, but Mendham recovered. The Vikings then utilized their timeouts and got defensive stops to force Mendham to punt. However, the Minutemen’s ground game kept moving the chains with first-down runs by both Capuzzi and King to wrap up the victory.
With the win, Mendham improved to 5-5 overall on the season and will host River Dell in the North Jersey Group 3 Regional Crossover Final on Thursday, November 2nd at 7:00 PM. Voorhees concludes its season at 6-4 overall. The Vikings had their first winning season since 2017 when they reached the North Jersey Section 2 Group 3 Championship and fell to West Essex (28-14) at Met Life Stadium. The Vikes also won the Milk Can game versus North Hunterdon for the first time since 2011.