Pioneers Ride Junior RB’s Four TDs in Victory over Blue Jays
MIDDLESEX, NJ—Opening up Week 8 action in the Big Central Conference, Middlesex hosted New Providence on Thursday night as the Blue Jays concluded their season at home. The contest marked the first time that the Pioneers and Blue Jays met on the gridiron since opening weekend of the 2018 season when New Providence edged Middlesex, 27-19.
Prior to that, the two schools had not played each other since 1997. Former rivals in the old Mountain Valley Conference, Middlesex and New Providence began playing each other in 1965, and more regularly in 1982. After the Blue Jays won the first two match-ups in 1965-66, the Pioneers won 14 of the last 16 meetings including the last 13 before the rivalry ended in 1997. New Providence entered Thursday’s contest on a 14 game winning streak in the series.
Now, the Pioneers can make that 15 straight. Behind dominant offensive and defensive lines, and the rushing performance of bruising back, Charlie Barth, New Providence jumped out to a 20-0 late 2nd quarter lead, and cruised to a 33-10 victory. The Pioneers scored on 3 of its 5 first half drives with the other two ending on a fumble, and a pass that was just out of reach in the end zone as time expired in the opening half.
Barth rushed for 191 yards and 4 touchdowns on 22 carries for an average of 8.7 yards per carry. He also starred on the defensive side of the football with 11 tackles. Jacob Wied also chipped in by scoring the Pioneers only other touchdown along with 58 yards rushing on just 5 carries, or an average of 11.6 yards per carry. Quarterback Dean Licari completed almost 86 percent of his 7 passes for 68 yards or 11.3 yards per completion.
Ethan Gill stood out in defeat for Middlesex. The senior Blue Jays running back rushed for 94 yards and a touchdown on just 9 carries or an average of 10.4 yards per carry. Mehki Parks chipped in with 42 yards on 8 carries while fullback Max George grinder out 43 yards on 15 carries into the teeth of the stout New Providence defense. Quarterback Stephen Young rushed 10 times for 29 yards while only completing 1 of 6 passes.
New Providence dominated on offense with 283 total yards on the ground along with 68 through the air for a 351 to 199 edge in total yards. The Pioneers averaged 7.3 yards per carry while Middlesex’s triple option garnered only 4.3 yards per carry. The Pioneers placekicker, Brandon Mora made 3 of 4 PATs while Middlesex’s Josue Hernandez-Paiz made a 28 yard field goal with 11:07 to play in the contest while converting the Blue Jays only PAT.
Bobby Ulmer stood out on defense for Middlesex with 9 tackles while Max George registered 6, and Parks, Young, and Mark Geist picked up 5. Young also collected a fumble recovery. In addition to Barth, New Providence’s defense got solid efforts from Owen Forbes (9 tackles), Gavin Duffy (9 tackles), Anthony Kaspereen (8 tackles), Sean Michaels (6 tackles), Charlie Palmer (6 tackles), Tim Walsh (5 tackles), and Pat Vass (5 tackles) while Jeff Nook registered the Pioneers only sack.
Taking the opening kickoff, New Providence marched down the field in 9 plays and about 3:45 when Barth scored the first of his for touchdowns on a 17 yard run. Despite missing the PAT, the Pioneers led Middlesex 6-0. After stopping the Blue Jays on their opening possession of the game by stuffing a fourth down and short attempt, New Providence moved down the field again with Barth capping another scoring drive with a 15 yard run up the middle for a 13-0 lead with 4:33 remaining in the first.
Following a Middlesex fumble recovery that halted its third offensive drive of the game, New Providence managed to get the ball back, and got in position to score when Wied took a handoff, ran left up the New Providence sideline, and eluded several Blue Jay tacklers for fa 30 yard scamper to the end zone and a 20-0 Pioneers lead with 2:32 to play in the first half. New Providence had another chance to score before halftime, but Licari’s only incomplete pass was just too long.
The Blue Jays would quickly respond with a much needed score. With 46 seconds to play in the first half, Gill took a pitch on the left side, and scampered some 42 yards down the Middlesex sideline for a touchdown to close the gap to 20-7. Middlesex was unable to get any closer though. New Providence’s defense halted the Jays on their opening drive of the second half, and then put the game away.
On their first offensive possession of the second half, the Pioneers continued to ride Barth’s back. Barth would get his third touchdown of the game on a 25 yard touchdown run off a sweep to the right up Middlesex’s sideline for a 27-7 lead with 6:43 to play in the third quarter. Following Hernandez-Paiz’s FG early in the fourth, New Providence put together another scoring drive capped by Barth’s fourth TD on a 4th down and 3 play with 7:19 left for a 33-10 advantage.
With the victory, New Providence improved to 7-1 on the season, and now leads the all time series with Middlesex, 16-4. The Blue Jays last win over the Pioneers was a 12-7 victory in 1984. At that time, Middlesex led the series 4-1. Over the course of the 20 games played between these schools since 1965, New Providence has outscored Middlesex by a margin of 420-160, or an average of 21 to 8.
During the 15 game winning streak, the Pioneers have outscored the Blue Jays by a margin of 396-85, or an average of 26 to 6 including six shutouts, and four other games were Middlesex was limited to 7 points or less. Middlesex concluded its season at 3-3. New Providence will play one more time when it takes on long time rival, Governor Livingston on Thanksgiving Eve.