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Phillipsburg football shuts down Paterson Eastside to move to NJSIAA North 2 Group 5 final

Phillipsburg 37, Paterson Eastside 6

All that separated the Phillipsburg football team from a return to a sectional championship game was Paterson Eastside, a defensive force that had held five of its last six opponents to 10 points or less.

The Stateliners (10-0) scored two touchdowns 1:11 apart in the first half to build a 17-0 halftime lead that never came under threat as they shut out the Ghosts (6-4) until the fourth quarter.

Top-seeded Phillipsburg defeated fourth-seeded Paterson Eastside 37-6 in the NJSIAA North 2 Group 5 semifinal at Maloney Stadium Friday night.

Turning point: The Stateliners started their second drive of the game at their own 40. After moving the ball 16 yards on three straight run plays, sophomore quarterback Jett Genovese found senior Isaiah Jackson wide open over the middle for a 44-yard touchdown.

On the ensuing kickoff, Romadon Adams returned it about 10 yards before Phillipsburg senior Nate Bartholomew popped the ball out of his hands and Stateliners junior Patrick Day recovered at the Ghosts’ 28.

A nine-yard completion from Genovese to senior Kevin Burgess kept the drive alive on 4th-and-8. Two plays later, Genovese scampered to his right on a play action roll out and dove into the end zone on a 15-yard touchdown run. Junior Luke Brogan’s PAT gave Phillipsburg a 14-0 lead with 10:25 left in the second quarter.

Brogan hit a 30-yard field goal on the final play of the first half to give the Stateliners a 17-0 lead at the break. Paterson Eastside wouldn’t get on the scoreboard until there was 5:44 left to play, but only after Phillipsburg had established a 30-0 lead.

Top performers: Genovese completed 12 of 22 passes for 154 yards and a touchdown. Sophomore Matthew Scerbo Jr. made two catches for 53 yards, including a 43-yard gain over the middle on 3rd-and-19 to help put the Stateliners in field goal range just before halftime.

Senior Xavier Moore led the rushing attack with 56 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries. The senior scored on a six-yard run in the third quarter and an eight-yard carry in the fourth.

Junior fullback Caleb Rivera added 46 yards on 12 carries. Senior Jayson Garcia took five carries for 27 yards in the fourth and junior Omar Dominguez scored on his only carry, a 27-yard touchdown run with 1:43 left to play.

Moore, Rivera and senior Hunter Cleaver each tallied one sack. Senior Connor Hille recorded seven tackles for the Stateliners and Day finished with five stops.

What it means: Phillipsburg will face sixth-seeded West Orange, which defeated second-seeded Ridgewood 31-28 in overtime in the other semifinal. It’s the first sectional final for the Stateliners since 2018, when they defeated Irvington 42-7 for the North 2 Group 4 championship.

The Ghosts will now have three weeks to prepare for a Thanksgiving showdown against rival Paterson Kennedy (0-9).

Desmond Boyle may be reached at

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