Zebras Ride Solid Running Game from Alford, Tibbs, Latham, and Bull for Win over Warriors
FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP, NJ—Despite the short distance between the two schools, Saturday afternoon marked the first time that New Brunswick ever played Franklin on the football field. While Franklin played the now closed St. Peter’s of New Brunswick in 1965, and North Brunswick four times since 1987 including back to back consolation or regional crossover games in 2015 and 2016, the Warriors and Zebras never played each other.
However, with the formation of the Big Central Football Conference in the last year, Franklin was moved into Division 5B with the likes of teams from the GMC White Division last year including long time Thanksgiving Day rival, Piscataway and New Brunswick. The stages was set for the first ever meeting between the Zebras and Warriors in varsity football. Franklin, which applied for membership in the Greater Middlesex Conference on two occasions including more recently in 2009, opened the season with a 7-6 victory over Edison.
Since opening weekend though, the Warriors lost to Sayreville on the road last week (33-6) after the Bombers were edged by Edison the week before at Matthew J. Drawl Stadium in South Edison (16-14). New Brunswick opened the season with a surprising 29-12 victory over Immaculata of Somerville in the Hub City on October 2nd. The Zebras, which had a promising start end in disappointment a season ago, then fell to North Brunswick (28-7) in Week 2, and versus Edison (24-7) last week.
New Brunswick also experienced the loss of several key players from last year’s football team and talented basketball team including Ahyan Brown-Miller (Wagner College), Tahjay Moore (Rutgers University), and Ny’dir Harmon. However, the Zebras have some promising talent returning including Quentin Tibbs, Amir Alford, Bryan Latham, Marquel Blount, and Jarazell Bull. NBHS also has good talent coming up from a sophomore class that was quite successful on the Middle School level two years ago.
Alford, Tibbs, Lathan, and Bull were on display on Saturday, anchoring a rushing attack that took up a lot of clock while the Zebras special teams and defense helped New Brunswick dominate the field position game while hindering Franklin’s offense to produce a 20-7 victory. Alford scored the first touchdown of the game on a 41 yard run in the first quarter off of a reverse at the 3:40 mark of the first quarter. Although New Brunswick missed a short FG with 3:48 left in the 2nd, it still managed to take a two score lead into the intermission on a 4th and goal TD run from two yards out by Lantham with 17.8 seconds to go in the half.
Franklin showed more life in the second half when it forced a fumble, which was picked up and returned by sophomore Robert Huntley deep into New Brunswick at the 8:30 mark of the 3rd. However, after the Warriors put together a fine run to the Zebras 11 yard line, Franklin was not able to score as New Brunswick deflected a pass in the end zone on fourth down to halt the drive. New Brunswick then put the game away with a drive that went into the early fourth quarter and was capped by a 31 yard run for a touchdown by Bull at the 11:26 mark.
Franklin Township attempted to climb back into the game with its best drive of the contest highlighted by runs from leading rusher Ashwani Stuart, Quasim Ashford, and Ricardo Folkes, a New Brunswick penalty that wiped out a Jayden Gomez interception of a Stuart half back option pass, and a completion from Dylan Millman to older brother Kevin Millman to get the Warriors to the New Brunswick 19 yard line with 7:08 remaining in the game. The Warriors kept grinding until Stuart scored on a 3 yard run with 4:59 remaining in the game.
Although the Warriors forced New Brunswick to punt on its next possession, the Zebras, which helped themselves with a solid kicking game including a couple nice punts that pinned Franklin deep in its own territory, was able to down one of those punts on the Franklin one yard line with around two minutes to play. The Warriors then were forced to punt after going three and out. The Zebras then ran out the clock for the two score victory.
With the victory, New Brunswick evened its overall record on the season to 2-2 including a 1-2 mark in Division 5B. Franklin dropped to 1-2 overall and in divisional play with the loss. Both teams will be back in action on Friday night with the Zebras hosting Sayreville in the Hub City at 7:00 PM while Franklin travels to undefeated and No. 2 in the GMC Gridiron Top 10, North Brunswick, at 7:00 PM.