Forced to make a last-second adjustment to its schedule due to the flood damage that Hurricane Ida caused Piscataway, Phillipsburg football opened its 2021 schedule against one of the top teams in the Garden State.
The Stateliners hosted Saint Joseph of Montvale, ranked No. 8 in the state by NJ.com, on Saturday night at Maloney Stadium and the Green Knights came out on top, 28-6.
The Green Knights responded with a 12-play drive and looked to extend their lead on a 36-yard field goal attempt. Phillipsburg bull-rushed the middle and sophomore Cameron Bohal blocked the kick before fellow sophomore Kevin Burgess fielded a return around the Stateliners 15 and sprinted down the home sideline all the way to the Green Knights 15.
An 8-yard run up the middle from quarterback Jakhye McLean set the Stateliners up just 7 yards from the goal line.
On the next play, Moore took a handoff up the middle and appeared to be stopped for no gain before the ball popped out and Green Knights senior Jack Smiechowski scooped it up. The Columbia commit burst down the away sideline and went the distance on an 87-yard fumble return for a touchdown that gave Saint Joseph a 21-6 lead.
The Stateliners fumbled a few plays into its next possession and Saint Joseph extended its lead to 28-6 on a 6-yard touchdown run from sophomore Kenyon Massey.
Top performers: The Green Knights built a 14-0 lead on two long touchdown passes from Luke Henrich to Jaden Wimberly.
Wimberly, a Lehigh commit, had touchdown receptions of 34 and 43 yards and finished with four catches for 108 yards. Henrich completed 12 of 16 passes for 147 yards and the two touchdowns.
Moore rushed for 74 yards on 17 carries to go along with his touchdown.
Fullback Rai-Quon Dixon needed just five carries to contribute 31 yards on the ground. The senior also snagged a 14-yard reception.
Bohal blocked both the late field goal attempt and a punt in the first half. Senior Stephen Gural was all over the field for Phillipsburg on defense and finished with 13 tackles. Senior Nolan Chiulli and junior Connor Hille both tallied nine tackles.
What it Means: Phillipsburg started 0-1 for the first time since 2007, when it opened the season against Bergen Catholic. The Stateliners will travel to Hillsborough on Friday night in search of their first win.
Desmond Boyle may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.