Phillipsburg High School’s football teamimproved to 2-0 with a 14-12 victory over Mid-State 37 Delaware Division rival Hunterdon Central on Friday at Maloney Stadium.
The Stateliners controlled the first half of the game, held on through a shaky second half and, ultimately, needed a goal-line stand on a two-point conversion to win their fifth straight over the Red Devils.
Junior quarterback Jack Stagaard threw for 137 yards and ran for a touchdown and running back Joe Green ran for 87 yards and a score.
“I’m happy with the way we fought,” Phillipsburg coach Frank Duffy said. “We battled through some adversity and got the win, and that is what I’m most proud of. This can only make us stronger.”
Turning point: Hunterdon Central took the opening kickoff and drove the ball to the P’burg 12, using just under six minutes of clock and collecting five first downs, before a bad snap sailed over quarterback Clayton Lancaster’s head for an 18-yard loss.
The Red Devils only ran 10 more plays on offense the rest of the half.
Central flipped the script in the second half dominating the time of possession and coming within a two-point conversion of tying the game with less than a minute left.
Top performers: Stephen Davis, Phillipsburg. The junior running back/corner back played much bigger than his 5-foot-8, 175-pound description in the game program.
Davis caught three balls for 44 yards, including a 32-yarder down the middle of the field on a third-and-8 in the second quarter that set up Green’s 4-yard TD run with 6:33 left in the first half.
But it was Davis’ bone-jarring hit on Anthony Valentino at the goal line, on Central’s two-point conversion attempt with 32 seconds left in the game, that preserved the win.
“(Davis) has been Mr. Everything for us,” Duffy said. “He made that one big play down the middle of the field and that play at the end was clutch. I’m very proud of him.”
Hunterdon Central's Lancaster almost brought the Red Devils back from the depths to pull off the comeback. The QB, under duress the entire first half, continued to pick himself off the turf and make plays.
He completed 17 of 23 passes for 254 yards, and ran for 50 yards and touchdown despite being sacked four times and being hit numerous other times.
What it means: The Stateliners can stand up to adversity, while Hunterdon Central can take a punch.
The Red Devils made some big plays that were lacking in last week’s 28-14 loss to Bridgewater, while the Stateliners left some of those on the field.