Liners Roll Past Red Rovers

Liners Roll Past Red Rovers
Phillipsburg senior RB John Wargo rumbles his way to a third rushing touchdown in the Stateliners 47-12 win over Easton on Thanksgiving. Phillipsburg won back to back games over Easton for the first time since 2002-03.

Phillipsburg Wins Two Straight in Series for First Time Since 2002-03

EASTON, PA – After giving up the game’s first score to its arch-rival, Phillipsburg appeared to find itself in a dogfight.  However, the Stateliners managed to turn the tables with two first-quarter interceptions and a bad snap by Easton on a punt to score three times to take a 20-6 lead.  The rushing attack took over in the second half as both senior RB John Wargo and sophomore RB Sam Dech broke loose for two long TD runs as the Liners rolled past the Red Rovers for a 47-12 victory.

Wargo, who put in a superhero effort on both sides of the ball to earn game MVP honors, rushed 13 times for 160 yards and 3 TDs while catching two passes for another 29 yards on offense.  He also collected two sacks on defense.  Dech rushed 9 times for 138 yards and two TDs.  Junior QB Jett Genovese also rushed for two scores.  As a team, Phillipsburg rushed 29 times for 328 yards, or an average of 11.3 yards per carry.

Highlights from Phillipsburg’s 47-12 victory over Easton on Thanksgiving

Ironically, Easton held an advantage in first downs (16-7) and passing yards (147-40).  Sophomore RB Dorian Thomas turned in a solid performance in a losing cause for the Red Rovers with 28 carries for 135 yards, and the team’s only two scores.  Unfortunately, the Red Rovers were done in by turnovers and penalties.  In addition to the two first-period interceptions and bad snap on a punt, the Red Rovers committed 10 penalties for 110 yards.

Easton’s miscues helped Phillipsburg settle down and regain control of the contest.  Junior linebacker, Jayden Lucas turned in a monster game on defense with 15 total tackles.  Kevin Burgess collected 10 total tackles while Cameron Bohal added 9.  Patrick Day and Marvelous Shabi came up with the two huge first-quarter interceptions in Easton territory that helped the Liners take a 13-6 lead.

Watch Phillipsburg RB John Wargo hurdle an Easton defender in the 2nd quarter.

Ricky Krouse chipped in on defense with 5 total tackles including two sacks.  Phillipsburg’s swarming defense applied a ton of pressure on Easton’s QB.  As a team, the Stateliners tallied 6 sacks in the game.  In front of a raucous and enthusiastic packed house at Lafayette College’s Fisher Stadium, Easton took the opening kickoff and returned it to around midfield to start the first scoring drive of the game.

In just a little over two minutes, the Red Rovers marched down the field for a score.  Thomas capped the drive with a run to the left towards the Easton sideline before eluding a Phillipsburg tackler as he dove for the pylon and the touchdown.  The extra point was missed for a 6-0 with 9:49 remaining in the opening quarter.  Easton’s defense then forced Phillipsburg to punt on its first offensive series of the game.

Highlights from Phillipsburg’s 28-7 Freshmen Football win over Easton on November 6th.

The game began to turn on the punt as the Stateliners pinned the Red Rovers on their own one-yard line with 7:05 to go in the first.  After two fine open field tackles by Lucas and Jah’Quil Dooley (two forced fumbles and a sack), Easton was forced to throw out of its own end zone on third down, and Day pounced for the interception with 5:51 remaining in the first.  

One play later, Wargo was in the end zone after an 8-yard TD run to tie the score at 6-6 with 5:44 left in the first.  Easton managed to get better field position to start its third drive of the game, but once again, Phillipsburg’s defense turned the tables with a big play.  With the duo of Jack Regan and Gifton Friday-Johnson (a sack) applying the pressure, Easton’s QB put the ball up over the middle into the leaping arms of Shabi, who then returned the ball to the Red Rovers 10-yard line.

Highlights from Easton’s 34-12 JV Football win over Phillipsburg on November 6th.

Four plays later, Genovese hit paydirt with a 16-yard keeper into the left corner of the end zone.  Colin Hoey then added the extra point for a 13-6 Liners’ lead with 3:28 to play in the first.  Phillipsburg’s defense continued to crank the vise even more on Easton’s next possession.  Friday-Johnson wrapped up a three-and-out by collecting a sack on 3rd down that forced the Red Rovers to punt.

On the punt attempt, the snap was very high and over the head of the Easton punt, who then had no other choice, but to fall on the ball at the Red Rovers’ own 7-yard line.  Three plays later, Genovese faked the handoff, and scooted to his left toward the Stateliner sideline, then cut back to his right before beating a couple of Easton defenders to the goal line for the 5-yard score, and a 20-6 advantage with 45 seconds to play in the first.

Shane Moore Highlight Reel – Phillipsburg vs. Easton – Freshmen Football – November 6, 2023

There was no scoring in the second quarter although Phillipsburg came close to putting the ball in the end zone.  In a drive that was highlighted by Wargo hurdling over an Easton defender near the Phillipsburg sideline after hauling in his first reception of the game, the Liners moved to within a few yards of a score.  Dech was stopped as he tried to leap over the pile from about two yards out.  Wargo was then stopped on a toss sweep to the right on 4th down.

Easton then managed to get the ball in scoring position in the waning moments of the first half but was unable to score.  The Red Rovers eventually turned the ball over on downs after a pass to the right corner of the end zone was out of reach.  Phillipsburg then took a knee and went into the locker room at the intermission with a two-score lead.  The Liners then put the game away in the third quarter.

Wargo opened the second half scoring with an explosive 58-yard scamper that included a rugged stiff-arm to an Easton defender that cleared the way to the end zone for a 27-6 lead with 6:35 to play in the third.  Dech took over from there with two tremendous TD runs of his own.  Dech’s two scoring scampers accounted for 91 percent of his rushing total for the day.

Dech first took a handoff at midfield and broke through to daylight on the left side for a 50-yard scoring run, and a 34-6 Phillipsburg lead with 3:58 to go in the third.  Thomas provided a response for Easton by capping a Red Rover scoring drive with a 5-yard TD run.  The Stateliners then snuffed out the halfback pass on the two-point attempt for a 34-12 lead with 2:24 to play in the third.

On the Liners’ ensuing drive, Dech took advantage of a tremendous lead block on the left side by Wargo that created a gaping hole in Easton’s defense.  Dech scooted through again to daylight for a 75-yard TD run to make the score 41-12 with 2:04 left in the frame.  Wargo then finished up his huge day with the game’s last score midway through the fourth.

Wargo took the handoff from Genovese and rumbled around the left end to daylight along the Phillipsburg sideline for a 52-yard touchdown run.  Despite the missed extra point, Phillipsburg was up 47-12 with just under seven minutes to play.  The final minutes ticked down quickly thanks to the mercy rule, and the Stateliners won their first back-to-back Thanksgiving Day games in this rivalry since the 2002 and 2003 seasons.

With the victory, Phillipsburg, which lost to Union City (24-17) in the 2023 NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2 Group 5 Championship two weeks ago, ended its season at 10-2 overall.  The Stateliners finished in a three-way tie with Hillsborough and Ridge for first in the Big Central Conference’s American Silver Division at 3-1.  Easton ended the season at 3-8 after five straight defeats to finish the year.

SUBVARSITY NOTES: Several weeks ago, Big Central Gridiron journeyed to Maloney Stadium and Bellis Field to take in the Freshmen and JV Doubleheader between Phillipsburg and Easton. The Stateliners won the freshmen game by the score of 28-7. Running back, Shane Moore rushed 20 times for 147 yards and 3 TDs to lead the Freshmen Liners to victory. In the JV nightcap, Easton defeated Phillipsburg by a score of 34-12. The JV Red Rovers led 8-6 after one period before scoring 26 of the last 32 points for the win.