South Brunswick Overcomes Middletown South, 36-24
MIDDLETOWN, NJ–In a game that saw both South Brunswick and Middletown South combined for 53 of the game’s 60 points over the last 24:50 of play, Syracuse bound running back/defensive bound Dontae Strickland proved to be the difference. Seeing that his South Brunswick Vikings needed a boost, Stirckland came up with big plays at the right time on both sides of the football.
The result was a South Brunswick victory on the road in a tough environment against one of the top teams from both the Shore Conference and in Central Jersey. Trailing 7-0 late in the first half, the Vikes outscored Middletown South by a margin of 36-17 the rest of the way to get a 36-24 victory. Strickland was at the center of it all. He had two touchdown runs of 25 and 69 yards in the third and fourth quarters. The Syracuse bound running back also caught a screen pass for 29 yards on a key drive that helped tie the game at 7-7 in the second period.
On Middletown South’s ensuing possession, Strickland picked up a fumble, and returned it about 34 yards for a touchdown and a 14-7 halftime lead. Finally, he threw a halfback option pass of 46 yards to Marcus Jackson on the opening drive of the second half to help set up another score. Strickland also managed to deflect a Middletown South pass away at midfield in the second half. Strickland ended up with three touchdowns in the game, but helped set up to other scores.
Those two other scores came on touchdown runs by quarterback, Amir Johnson. According to stats from MaxPreps, Strickland ended up with 149 yards rushing on 15 carries. He also caught a pass for 29 yards and threw another pass for 46 yards to tally up 178 total yards in the game. On the defensive side of the ball, Strickland compiled five solo tackles along with his fumble recovery and pass deflection.
Meanwhile, Johnson went 4 of 8 passing for 67 yards while rushing 18 times for 77 yards. On defense, Johnson deflected two passes while making one solo tackle. Middletown South fought valiantly in the contest. Not only did the Eagles take it to South Brunswick early on, they didn’t give up when they fell behind.
Led by Cole Rogers, who had 128 yards rushing on 16 carries and one reception for 11 yards as well as a first quarter punt return of 59 yards to set up the game’s first score, the Eagles kept battling to the very end. Early on things didn’t look good for the Vikings.
Taking the opening kickoff, South Brunswick went three and out in its opening series. The Vikings gained little, if any positive yardage. Forced to punt, the Vikes kicked to Rogers, who returned the punt to the South Brunswick three yard line. Two plays later, Rogers ran into the end zone. The Eagles then added the extra point for a 7-0 lead at the 8:56 mark.
On its next series, SBHS had a critical play deep in its own territory. Again after going three and out, the Vikings were confronted with another fourth down situation on its own 30 yard line. Head coach, Joe Goerge decided to go for it, and the gutsy move paid off as Amir Johnson ran a keeper into the right side of the line, and got the first down.
The Vikings continued the drive and moved into Eagles territory by the start of the second period. South Brunswick had a chance to tie the game, but were stopped on downs when a pass from Johnson intended for Mohammed Jabbie went incomplete at the 11:26 mark. Getting the ball at its 20 yard line, the Eagles moved the ball to midfield in just 2:08 before being stopped by the Viking defense.
South Brunswick’s next drive again went three and out, and after a timeout at the 7:03 mark, the Vikings decided to punt. Middletown South went three and out on its next possession, but caught a big break on special teams when the Eagles punt buried SBHS inside its 10 yard line. Several plays later, the Vikes were presented with a key 3rd and 5, and they handed off to Strickland, who finally got the offense going with a first yard carry at the 2:36 mark.
Strickland then followed that up with a 25 yard run, and a 31 yard reception on a screen pass at the 1:23 mark following a run to the left side by Jackson. A few plays later, Johnson was forced to scramble on a 3rd and 11 play, and got into the end zone. The extra point was good, and the score was tied up at 7-7 with 49 seconds to play in the first half.
Middletown South took the ensuing kickoff, but on its first play from scrimmage, fumbled the ball. Strickland recovered it, and took it to the house for a 14-7 lead at the 34.9 second mark. The Eagles would rebound though by taking the kickoff, and moving the ball quickly downfield for a scoring chance in the waning moments of the first half.
Middletown South quarterback, Matt Mosquera, who completed 8 of 20 passes for 127 yards, threw a 25 yard completion, and then completed another first down pass to set up that was converted into a 28 yard field goal by Mosquera as time ran out in the first half with South Brunswick leading 14-10.
The third quarter began with South Brunswick stopping Middletown South on its first drive of the second half, and then moving the ball quickly downfield for another touchdown. Key play in the drive was a halfback option pass from Strickland to Jackson covering 36 yards to about the Eagles 15 yard line.
Several plays later, Johnson ran it in from five yards out for his second touchdown of the game. The extra point was no good, but the Vikings still led, 20-17 with 8:02 to go in the third. Middletown South didn’t waste time to respond. Led by Mosquera, the Eagles drove the field in just 1:52 to get a touchdown on a pass off a rollout to the right to cut the deficit to 20-17 at the 6:10 mark.
Unfortunately for the rabid Eagle fans in attendance, Middletown South wouldn’t get any closer. Over a span of the next 6:21, South Brunswick scored 16 unanswered points for a commanding 36-17 lead. Sparking the outburst was Strickland, who took the pitch on the option from Johnson, and streaked some 69 yards to paydirt for a 27-17 lead with just under five minutes to play in the period.
Towards the end of the third period, Middletown South’s offense made a key mistake deep in its own end of the field when a bad snap sailed past Mosquera, and resulted in a Vikings safety for a 36-17 lead with 49.2 seconds left in the frame. South Brunswick then took the free kick, and moved in for another score as the third period ended.
On the first play from scrimmage in the fourth, Strickland took a handoff and ran 25 yards for his second rushing touchdown and third overall on the game to give the Vikes a 19 point advantage with 11:49 to play. Middletown South replied again with a quick scoring drive capped by a four yard touchdown run by Rogers with 9:56 left.
The Eagles then stopped the next Viking drive in three plays and forced SBHS to punt. Middletown South moved quickly into scoring position again thanks to a 39 yard run by Rogers with 7:03 remaining. However, South Brunswick was able to put the game away by stopping the Eagles’ drive on fourth down at the Vikes 10 yard line with 6:13 remaining. From there, Johnson and Strickland helped the Vikings run out the clock for a 36-24 victory.
With the win, South Brunswick opened the season at 1-0 and had plenty of momentum and confidence to go into its GMC Red schedule with. Meanwhile, Middletown South, which soundly defeated Marlboro on September 6th (56-0) dropped to 1-1 on the season.