PHILLIPSBURG FOOTBALL EARNS SIGNATURE WIN OVER BRIDGEWATER
Phillipsburg 30, Bridgewater 7 -- Rapid Recap
The Stateliners left the Panthers’ 24-game regular-season winning streak in smoking ruins with a dominant second-half performance in front of a full house at Basilone Field in Bridgewater Friday night.
Phillipsburg (3-0 overall and division) owned the third and fourth quarters as they outscored its Mid-State 37 Delaware Division foe (2-1, 2-1) 23-0 after halftime. The Stateliners took over the game on both lines in the second half as they outmuscled and outworked a talented bunch of Panthers.
“This was a signature win for us,” said Phillipsburg junior running back Joe Green, who rushed for a game-high 153 yards and scored three touchdowns on runs of 8, 14 and 30 yards.
It was a game of contrasts for the Stateliners, who threw the ball 23 times in the first half to five runs but flipped that ratio in the second half.
“We have to be a balanced team and we know we’re better when we can get Joe going,” Phillipsburg head coach Frank Duffy said. “I think some of the things we did throwing in the first half opened some things up for Joe in the second half.”
The Stateliners scored first on a 36-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Jack Stagaard to junior wide receiver Ray Stem.
“Ray started in the slot,” said Stagaard, who completed 16 of 29 passes for 163 yards and the score. “The play was supposed to go to (tight end) Sean Morro but he was covered so I went to Ray. The offensive live gave me all the time I needed.” Indeed, Stagaard was not sacked all game.
Duffy saw that scored as a key.
“It was important we scored first, to show the kids we belonged on the field with them,” he said.
There’s no doubt about that now.
Turning point: Phillipsburg senior defensive lineman Jalen Boothman scored his first varsity points when he sacked Panther quarterback Greg Verano for a safety and a 16-7 Stateliner lead with 8:31 left in the fourth quarter.
“They moved their tackle off me and tried to block me with a running back,” Boothman said. “(Defensive coordinator) Chris Hull told me anytime they do that’s disrespecting me, so I just blew up the running back and made the sack.”
Top performer: Green got better and better as the game progressed. His 30-yard TD run saw him break tackles from a pair of all-state quality linebackers. His legs churn hard every second he has the ball.
What it means: Lots of respect for Phillipsburg. A huge step towards a division title. A tremendous, inspiring win that should boost Stateliner confidence all around. And, oh, yes, a ranking, perhaps, for Phillipsburg, in the state? “Maybe it’s time,” said Green with a smile.
Brad Wilson may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @bradwsports. Find Lehigh Valley high school sports on Facebook.