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Phillipsburg football forces key turnovers to win season opener at Sayreville

Phillipsburg 14, Sayreville 7 -- Rapid Recap

The Phillipsburg football team’s Big Central Conference cross-divisional matchup against Sayreville had all the hallmarks of a season opener.

There were a plethora of turnovers, special teams mishaps and plays derailed by slightly-off timing, but the Stateliners capitalized on a second-half interception to earn a 14-7 victory at Memorial Stadium Friday night.

Turning point: Each team found the end zone once in the first half with long rushing touchdowns and the score was tied 7-7 at the break.

Phillipsburg turned the ball over on downs near midfield on its second possession of the third quarter. Sayreville senior quarterback Michael Colonnello started the ensuing drive with a 13-yard gain that set the Bombers up with first-and-10 at the Stateliners’ 34.

Two plays and a false start later, Sayreville faced third-and-10 and dialed up a trick play.

Colonnello handed the ball off to junior running back Zaimer Wright, who pitched it to backup quarterback Nick Nunez. The sophomore faced pressure immediately, was hit as he threw, and Phillipsburg junior John Wargo intercepted the lofted pass.

Wargo cut to his right and out ran several Sayreville linemen along the home sideline to reach the end zone. Luke Brogan’s PAT put the Stateliners ahead 14-7 with 1:32 left in the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter, Phillipsburg forced the Bombers to turn the ball over on downs twice and senior Isaiah Jackson recovered a fumble by Wright on a punt return.

Top performers: Phillipsburg running back Xavier Moore racked up 162 yards on 18 carries. The senior’s first touch of the game gave the Stateliners the lead as he broke off a 74-yard touchdown five minutes into the contest. Moore also broke up a pass in the end zone when Sayreville faced fourth-and-11 in the fourth quarter.

Wargo needed just three carries to contribute 49 yards on the ground, including a 36-yard gain in the second quarter. The junior defensive linemen made five stops with four tackles for a loss.

Senior linebacker Connor Hille finished with nine tackles. Junior defensive back Kevin Burgess stripped Sayreville senior Devlin Mills of the ball near the goal line and recovered it in the end zone for a touchback halfway through the third quarter.

What it means: Phillipsburg (1-0) starts off the season with a road victory but has little time to regroup. The Stateliners hit the road again next week when they travel to Ridge Friday night. The Red Devils defeated Monroe 48-0 in their season opener.

Desmond Boyle may be reached at

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