Phillipsburg High School’s Jalil Terrell has game-breaking ability.
And he broke it out early on Saturday night.
The Stateliners senior scored on the first play from scrimmage and added a defensive touchdown in the first half to spark Phillipsburg’s 49-0 rout of Bridgewater during a Big Central Conference crossover game at Maloney Stadium.
Terrell turned a short reception into a huge gain to get the Stateliners rolling. The senior sprinted across the field for a 71-yard touchdown, on a pass from senior Matt Garatty, to put the hosts on the scoreboard after just 19 seconds.
“I ran a hitch, I caught it and once I turned around, there was no one next to me,” Terrell said. “I just sprinted however many yards I ran.”
Bridgewater was making progress on its opening series before a holding penalty and negative pass play blew things up for the Panthers (2-2).
Phillipsburg (5-1) went 78 yards on 13 plays during its next possession. Senior tailback Matt Quetel had a 6-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-5 to stretch his team’s lead to 14-0 with junior Matt D’Onofrio’s PAT at the 1:32 mark of the first quarter.
“We’ve gotten off to good starts this year and that’s huge,” P’burg coach Frank Duffy said. “... You want to get things going right off the bat. I think that gives you confidence throughout the half.”
Terrell struck again on the Panthers' ensuing drive. The senior jumped a route, intercepted a pass from junior QB Brady Kurdyla and cruised for a 65-yard touchdown.
“The whole first half, they were running hitches at the sticks,” Terrell said. “... I just read the quarterback, jumped the ball and picked it.”
“The kid is dynamic. He’s explosive,” Duffy said of Terrell. “Every time he touches the ball, you’re waiting for good things to happen ... He’s a game-changer on both sides.”
P’burg’s next two offensive possessions resulted in touchdowns as Garatty hit senior Michael Wambold for a 35-yard TD and Quetel charged into the end zone for a 5-yard score, which pushed the lead to 35-0 with 26 seconds left before the break and ensured the game was in the mercy rule during the second half.
Garatty ran for a 28-yard touchdown and backup QB Tristan Canzano added a 68-yard scoring sprint for the Stateliners in the second half.
Garatty was 9-for-12 with 204 yards and two touchdowns through the air. Quetel picked up 45 yards and two scores on nine carries. Declan Marron added five receptions for 82 yards.
P’burg’s defense caused two turnovers, forced four punts and stopped Bridgewater on a pair of fourth-down tries. Bridgewater gained 234 yards of total offense, but just 78 yards before the mercy rule was enacted.
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It was up to the Stateliners reserves to preserve the shutout in the second half, which they did thanks to halting the Panthers on fourth-and-goal from the P’burg 2-yard line and fourth-and-3 on the P’burg 20.
“I’m really proud of our effort,” Duffy said. “I’m really proud of the second- and third-teamers. We challenged them for the shutout at halftime and they responded.”
“I think all the starters were excited to see the second guys come in and keep the shutout going,” Terrell said.
It was a chaotic day for the 'Liners after it was announced Friday that the Bridgewater matchup was canceled. After a miscommunication between administrators was worked out, however, the game was put back on the schedule for Saturday night.
“It was kind of a crazy 24 hours,” Duffy said.
Terrell and his teammates got word on Saturday morning that they were playing.
“It was disappointing when the game got canceled, but once we found out that it got rescheduled, I think everybody was on the same page and ready to go,” he said.
Assuming there aren’t further schedule snafus, P’burg’s remaining slate is daunting. The 'Liners are scheduled to meet Ridge (5-1), Somerville (6-0) and rival Easton (3-3).
“Enjoy tonight and let’s get ready to work tomorrow,” Duffy said of the team’s mindset. “It’s not a cakewalk from here on out. Even with the scoreboard, we’ve got a lot of work to do. There are a lot of things we need to clean up against some quality opponents coming up.”
“Just take it day-by-day,” Terrell added. “Dial in each day; win each day; and we should get the results we want.”
Kyle Craig may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.