Phillipsburg football makes statement with shutout of Hillsborough
Phillipsburg 34, Hillsborough 0 -- Rapid Recap In an early season matchup of unbeaten foes ranked in the Top 20 by NJ.com, Phillipsburg High School’s football team left no doubt that it deserves more respect in the Garden State. The 18th-ranked Stateliners scored less than 5 minutes into the game and never looked back in a 34-0 victory over No. 11 Hillsborough in a Big Central Conference American Silver Division contest at Maloney Stadium Friday night. Turning point: Disaster struck for the Raiders on the opening drive of the game. A muffed kickoff return was followed by a high snap and Hillsborough was forced to punt from its own end zone after going three-and-out. Sam Meechan’s punt was partially blocked before coming to a stop at the Raiders’ 17. Four plays later, Phillipsburg senior Xavier Moore punched in a 1-yard touchdown to put the Stateliners up 7-0 with 7:43 left in the first quarter. Hillsborough then moved the chains once but was forced to punt from midfield. Phillipsburg mixed its ground game with the sophomore-to-sophomore connection of quarterback Jett Genovese and receiver Matthew Scerbo Jr. on a 14-play, 85-yard drive that chewed more than 7 minutes off the clock. The Stateliners doubled their lead when Genovese lofted a pass to his left that Scerbo Jr. out-jumped a defender for on a 7-yard touchdown reception. The Raiders crossed midfield for the first time on their next drive but an illegal formation penalty pushed them back and they were forced to punt. Phillipsburg took over at its own 34 and on the first play of the possession, Genovese faked a handoff, cut to his right and burst free down the away sideline on a 66-yard touchdown. Luke Brogan’s third PAT of the night gave the Stateliners a 21-0 lead with 6:12 left in the first half. Top performers: Genovese was nearly perfect through the air, completing 14 of 18 passes for 171 yards and one touchdown. The sophomore added 80 yards on the ground on just six carries. Scerbo Jr. finished with eight catches for 75 yards. Senior Isaiah Jackson made three catches for 61 yards, all in the second half. Jackson scored the game’s final points on a 53-yard punt return down the home sideline with 5:42 remaining. Moore added 27 yards on the ground on seven carries. Junior John Wargo finished with 36 yards on 12 carries, including a 1-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. Senior captain Connor Hille led the way on defense with seven tackles. Fellow senior Hunter Cleaver made five stops. What it means: Phillipsburg improved to 4-0 and put itself in a great position to capture its first divisional title since 2019. The Stateliners will make the trip to Hunterdon Central (2-3) next week. Hillsborough (3-1) saw its winning streak snapped at 16 games, and will look to rebound when it hosts Union (1-3) next week. Desmond Boyle may be reached at email@example.com.