SAYREVILLE Artur Sitkowski hit Anthony Imbimbo with the game-winning, 40-yard touchdown pass with 3:19 remaining and the Old Bridge High School football team forced a fumble three plays later to clinch a 28-21 victory over Sayreville on Friday night.
Sitkowski threw for 179 yards and three touchdowns, two coming in the fourth quarter, to lead Old Bridge (4-2) to a win when it looked like it might have been slipping away.
The Knights held a 7-0 halftime lead, thanks to a 25-yard touchdown pass from Sitkowski to a wide-open Jake Kodros with 3:35 left in the second quarter. But after intermission, Sayreville came back with an upper-cut to the Knights’ jugular, scoring twice in the third quarter and once on the first play of the fourth quarter to build a 21-7 lead.
Sitkowski led the Knights back, getting his team in position to cut into the lead immediately after Michael Bertrand scooped up a fumble by Jake Esposito and ran 28 yards for a touchdown, putting Sayreville ahead by two scores on the first play of the final stanza.
Seven plays after the fumble, Nick Sodano plunged in from two yards out and Jon Sammarco’s extra point split the uprights to make it 21-14 Bombers with 9:09 left.
The Old Bridge defense allowed one first down before forcing Sayreville to punt and the Knights got the ball back with 7:18 left and all the momentum. Just three plays and a minute and a half later, Sitkowski hit Esposito for a 49-yard catch-and-run down the far sideline to put Old Bridge in position to tie the game. But Sammarco’s extra point sailed wide left and the Knights trailed 21-20.
After a three-and-out by the Sayreville (3-3) offense, Old Bridge got the ball back and let Sitkowski get it done with his arm again, as he hit Imbimbo for nine and then the final 40 yards to put the Knights in front. Sitkowski’s two-point pass to Esposito put Old Bridge up 28-21 and 57 seconds later, Martin Akerele recovered a fumble along the Sayreville sideline to clinch the victory.
“We just needed one defensive stop. They got it in good field position and started to move, but we made a big play over there,” Old Bridge head coach Anthony Lanzafama said. “We jumped on it and were able to milk the clock.”
Sitkowski threw 14 times in the second half and finished 12-21 and no turnovers, but Lanzafama said that it wasn’t the strategy to air it out in the second half.
“It was exactly the opposite of what we said at the half,” he said. “We were up 7-0 at the half and we wanted to get the running game going, because we only ran 16 plays in the first half. So we had to turn to the air and we had some guys make some plays.”
Esposito had four grabs for 109 yards and Imbimbo finished with four catches for 70 yards for Old Bridge.
“Coach did a great job calling the plays in the second half and our offensive line played absolutely outstanding,” Sitkowski said. “Our receivers made plays when they had to and it was an all around great effort. We just never gave up.”
Sayreville quarterback Jayson Demild finished with 205 yards passing and 52 yards rushing on nine attempts, including a pair of one-yard touchdown runs in the third quarter as he single-handedly tried to will the Bombers to a victory. Demild found Andrew Willie for a game-high eight catches for 72 yards in the losing effort.
Old Bridge has now taken the last two meeting between the two squads, dating back to the 2013 season opener. The Knights edged Sayreville 35-19 two years ago after having lost the previous seven matchups by an average deficit of nearly 26 points.
OLD BRIDGE (4-2) 0-7-0-21-28
SAYREVILLE (3-3) 0-0-14-7-21
OB – Kodros 24 pass from Sitkowski (Sammarco kick)
S – Demild 1 run (Pinho kick)
S – Demild 1 run (Pinho kick)
S – Bertrand 28 fumble recovery (Pinho kick)
OB – Sodano 2 run (Sammarco kick)
OB – Esposito 49 pass from Sitkowski (kick failed)
OB – Imbimbo 40 pass from Sitkowski (Sitkowski pass)
Passing – OB: Sitkowski 12-21-179; S: Demild 14-25-205-1.
Rushing – OB: Sodano 12-32, Esposito 9-25, Sitkowski 3-7; S: Demild 9-52, Liberti 16-51, Williams 2-1, Roberts 1-1.
Receiving – OB: Esposito 4-109, Imbimbo 4-70, Kodros 3-48, Angstadt 1-1; S: Williams 3-96, Willie 8-72, Clark 1-21, Behr 1-5, Williams 1-1.