The Phillipsburg football team failed to complete a pass throughout its game against Westfield on Friday night.
Thanks to two rushing touchdowns and a dominant defensive display, the Stateliners were still able to come away with a win in their regular season finale.
Phillipsburg defeated the Blue Devils 13-0 at Maloney Stadium in a Big Central Conference cross divisional matchup
Turning point: Leading 7-0 in the fourth quarter, Phillipsburg took over at its own 6 with 8:37 left to play.
Junior running back Xavier Moore took two carries for five yards before senior quarterback Jakhye McLean came close to picking up the first down on a run up the middle.
The Stateliners lined up to go for it on fourth down before taking their first timeout of the second half. McLean then took a snap and appeared to be stopped short before the referees indicated that Phillipsburg used its second timeout before the ball was snapped.
After the timeout, McLean faked a handoff, took a bootleg run to his left and broke free for a 46-yard gain down the home sideline.
Nine plays later, McLean scored on a three-yard touchdown run that capped off the 13-play, 94-yard touchdown drive and gave the Stateliners a 13-0 lead with just 1:36 remaining.
Top performers: Sophomore running back Caleb Rivera scored the game’s first touchdown on a 23-yard carry in the first quarter and finished with 60 rushing yards on seven carries.
McLean took nine carries for 58 yards while Moore finished with 48 yards on the ground.
Senior Stephen Gural led an inspired performance by Phillipsburg’s defense, totaling 12 tackles, 2 sacks and 2 forced fumbles. Fellow senior Nolan Chiulli recorded eight tackles for a unit that held Westfield to 26 rushing yards on 29 attempts.
What it means: The Stateliners pick up their third consecutive win to finish the regular season 5-3, not including a forfeit win over Somerville after that game was cancelled due to COVID-19 issues at the Somerset County school.
Phillipsburg will now wait to see who its opponent will be in the first game of the NJSIAA North Group 5 postseason.
Desmond Boyle may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.