The Phillipsburg football team earned its first win of the season last week by forcing five turnovers in a 27-0 shutout of Hunterdon Central.
In a Big Central Conference Division 5B matchup against Franklin, the Stateliners found a way to top that performance. They forced six turnovers in a 44-0 win over the Warriors at Maloney Stadium on Friday night.
Turning point: The Warriors showed their first sign of life during a goal-line stand early in the second quarter.
Franklin punter Fher Lujan had a snap go over his head and was forced to dive on the ball at the Warriors 9 to set Phillipsburg up in goal-to-go territory. Senior fullback Rai-Quan Dixon gained 9 yards on two carries to put the Stateliners one yard from the end zone. On fourth-and-goal from the 1, Dixon was stopped by a swarm of Warriors to force a turnover on downs.
The Warriors ran the ball on the next two plays before Phillipsburg sophomore Gifton Friday-Johnson stripped Franklin quarterback Samuele Mattia of the ball. The ball rolled into the end zone and Friday-Johnson recovered the fumble for a touchdown that extended the Stateliners’ lead to 16-0 with 9:26 left in the second quarter.
The Warriors went three-and-out on their next possession and a high snap on the punt attempt gave Phillipsburg possession just 3 yards from the goal line. Two plays later, senior running back Xavier Moore took a toss for a 4-yard touchdown run that extended Phillipsburg advantage to 23-0.
Top performers: Dixon took eight carries for 98 yards and a touchdown.
Moore finished with 33 yards and a touchdown on just six carries. The senior also came up with an interception in the third quarter.
Senior receiver Buster Penrose caught a 22-yard touchdown pass from fellow senior Tristen Canzano in the third quarter. Senior Roddrick Friday-Johnson had a fumble recovery and an interception.
Seniors Stephen Gural and Nolan Chiulli, and sophomore Kevin Burgess each had a fumble recovery. Sophomore Cameron Bohal blocked a punt in the third quarter.
What it means: The Stateliners (2-2) picked up their eighth straight victory over the Warriors and will now prepare to host Bridgewater next week.
Desmond Boyle may be reached at email@example.com.