MARLBORO — Chiebuka Chukwuneke ran for 194 yards, rushed for four touchdowns and scored a fifth time on an interception return, helping JP Stevens (1-0) edge Marlboro (0-1) 34-26 Saturday afternoon in both schools’ season openers. The Hawks led 20-2 heading into the fourth quarter, but Marlboro didn’t go quietly, scoring three touchdowns and converting all three two-point conversions to cut the gap to eight.
“Our basic program philosophy is you have to play 48 minutes of football to get a victory, no matter who you’re playing,” JP Stevens Head Coach Mike Ryan said. “We play a lot of great teams coming up with great coaching staffs, so we need to just play for a full 48 minutes in order to compete.”
The story on this Saturday was Chukwuneke, who scored on runs of 66, 89, 15 and 4 en route to a career-high in yardage on the ground. He only got the ball nine times in the game, the third highest total on the team, but made the most of his chances, averaging 21.5 yards per run. He got the Hawks on the board first when he bounced to the outside and rumbled 66 yards to pay dirt on JP Stevens’ first possession of the season. Two series’ later, Chukwuneke trotted all 89 yards untouched, putting JP Stevens up 13-2.
JP Stevens out-rushed Marlboro 283-114.
On the kickoff after Chukwuneke’s fourth rushing touchdown of the game, Marlboro tailback Dewan McCallister went 75 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown of his own, cutting the lead to 27-10. The Mustangs rolled the dice and went for an onsides kick in the moments following McCallister’s tally, and recovered the ball at the JP Stevens 47.
Eleven plays later, senior quarterback Parker Hoch hit McCallister for an 18-yard touchdown. The Mustangs added the two-point conversion to cut the lead to nine, but still needed to get the ball back. They tried yet another onsides kick and somehow came up with it, this time recovering at midfield.
But they wouldn’t be able to capitalize on that possession, as McCallister fumbled at the JP Stevens 3. After a punt gave Marlboro the ball back at their own 42, Hoch moved his team into scoring position, but was intercepted by Chukwuneke at the 4 and the Hawks’ star returned the ball all the way to the end zone for a 96-yard touchdown.
Hoch would connect with McCallister on a 15-yard pass on the ensuing drive, but it would be too little too late for Marlboro to complete the comeback.
For the game, Hoch completed 10-23 passes for 113 yards and those two touchdowns. JP Stevens out-rushed Marlboro 283-114 in the contest, led by Chukwuneke’s 194.