NJSIAA Group Semifinals Recap By John Sorce

Nov 20, 2018 | Brick Memorial, Football, Manasquan

Central, Group 2

2-Manasquan 14, 3-Cinnaminson 7

A three-yard touchdown run by senior running back Canyon Birch with 2:12 left in regulation was enough to left the Warriors past Cinnaminson and to their 19th sectional final in program history. Birch ran for 152 yards and a touchdown on 34 carries and senior James Pendergist returned a punt 33 yards for a score in the second quarter. Pendergist and senior Mike Page also had interceptions on defense.


Central, Group 3

1-Somerville 31, 4-Holmdel 20

Senior running back Dean Gallo ran for a pair of touchdowns and senior quarterback Jeff DeCicco threw a 54-yard touchdown pass to John Tomasulo, but the Hornets (8-2) fell to top-seeded Somerville, bringing an end to their best season in a decade. Holmdel led, 14-10, at the half before Somerville came out of the locker room looking like a different team, scoring 21 unanswered points to pull ahead and break the game open.


2-Rumson-Fair Haven 14, 3-Red Bank 9

Junior quarterback Collin Coles threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Peter Crowley in the second quarter and an eight-yard touchdown pass to Jackson McCarthy in the fourth quarter to lead the Bulldogs over the Bucs and advance to their sixth straight sectional final. Rumson held Red Bank off the scoreboard until 9:34 left to play. Red Bank cut the lead in half on a five-yard touchdown run by Makai Mickens. The Bucs narrowed the gap even further when sophomore Nick Ferrogine blocked a punt that rolled out of the end zone for a safety, but it was too little, too late, as Rumson advanced to the sectional final. Senior running back Alex Maldjian ran for 113 yards on 17 carries to lead Rumson.


Central, Group 4

1-Long Branch 47, 5-Brick Memorial 14

Long Branch once again rode junior running back Jermaine Corbett, who ran for 314 yards and scored five total touchdowns as the Green Wave dominated Brick Memorial to reach the sectional final. The Mustangs nearly took a 14-13 lead into halftime, thanks to a 62-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Anthony Albanese to senior running back Jeff Lavarin, giving them a one-point lead with 35 seconds left in the first half. But Long Branch responded when senior quarterback Marc Dennis threw a 37-yard touchdown pass to Niles Montgomery on the final play of the half, giving Long Branch a 20-14 halftime lead. It was all Green Wave in the second half as Corbett had touchdown runs of 29, 58, 39 and 20 yards in the second half and also added an 18-yard touchdown reception on a screen pass. Dennis also had an eight-yard touchdown run in addition to his touchdown pass to Montgomery.


3-Brick Township 42, 2-Middletown South 14

Senior quarterback Jimmy Leblo went off for Brick Township, rushing for 128 yards and four touchdowns and also caught a touchdown to lead the Dragons past the Eagles to advance to the sectional final. Brick scored on its opening possession on a one-yard run by Leblo and took a 14-0 lead following a Middletown South fumble as Leblo caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from junior Anthony Prato. The lead grew to 21-0 in the first quarter when Leblo sprinted for a 55-yard score and Brick extended the lead to 28-0 early in the second quarter when Leblo scored on a 16-yard touchdown run. The Dragons entered the locker room with a 35-0 lead thanks to Leblo’s fourth rushing score of the night, this one going for 14 yards. A Mike McGuigan interception return for a 35-yard touchdown made it 42-0 midway through the third quarter. Tyler Cuccia returned the ensuing kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown to get Middletown South on the board and Chris Lotito added a 1-yard touchdown run on the final play of the game.


Central, Group 5

1-Sayreville 24, 5-Manalapan 14

Junior quarterback Sean Kehley threw touchdown passes to Justin Reilly and Alex Claro, but the Braves could not overcome top-seeded Sayreville, who jumped out to a 7-0 lead when Cameron Davis caught a 34-yard touchdown pass early in the first quarter. The Bombers extended their lead to 14-0 on a six-yard run by Savin Kirksey early in the second quarter. Manalapan cut its deficit in half when Kehley threw a 26-yard touchdown to Claro with 1:14 remaining in the first half. Sayreville added seven more to its lead on a four-yard touchdown run by Kirksey with 7:15 left in the third quarter and Nick Milewski added a 25-yard field goal with 1:54 to play.


Non-Public, Group 3

3-Mater Dei Prep 28, 2-DePaul 23

Senior quarterback Rob McCoy threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to Clarence Lewis with 41 seconds remaining and Tahaj Parland broke up a pass in the end zone on the game’s final play as the Seraphs stunned defending state champion DePaul to advance to their third straight state final. Mater Dei had a 14-7 halftime lead, but DePaul pulled ahead with a field goal and a touchdown to take a 17-14 lead. Mater Dei responded with a 45-yard touchdown pass from McCoy to Isaiah Alston to regain the lead, 21-17. After DePaul re-took the lead on a 24-yard touchdown catch by Sean Kelly, Mater Dei put together the winning drive that sent shockwaves through the New Jersey football landscape.


1-Red Bank Catholic 27, 5-Pope John 0

Senior quarterback Steve Lubischer accounted for two scores with a six-yard touchdown run and a 41-yard touchdown pass to junior tight end Kevin Bauman to send the Caseys to their first state final since 2014. Junior running back Billy Guidetti had an 18-yard touchdown run and senior fullback Steve Cmielewski also ran for a seven-yard score. RBC will meet fellow Shore Conference opponent Mater Dei Prep in the Non-Public, Group 3 final at MetLife Stadium on Thanksgiving weekend. (See preview on page 11.)