COLONIA – With the score tied at 7-7 going into the half, the Colonia High School football team had 24 minutes to earn a divisional title and continue a winning streak heading into the state playoffs.
Senior quarterback Chase Barneys made sure that his team remained hot and accomplished those goals. Barneys posted three third-quarter touchdown runs in an eight-minute span, helping Colonia (7-2) edge South Plainfield 28-14 Friday night, wrapping up a second-straight Greater Middlesex Conference White Division title.
Barneys capped a six-play, 65-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown run to open the third quarter, and after South Plainfield went three-and-out, the dual-threat signal caller finished off a 10-play possession, running the final four yards to put the Patriots ahead 21-7.
“We just kept on going. We never give up. The linemen did a good job and I had running lanes the whole second half,” he said.
But following Barneys’ second score of the game and seventh rushing touchdown of the season, Ruben Torres returned the kickoff 94 yards for a score, bringing South Plainfield (6-2) back within seven.
The Patriots were whistled for a personal foul on the following kickoff, pinning themselves back at the 10-yard line. After Barneys was sacked, Bashir Lauderdale busted outside for a 24-yard run and Brandon Benedicks picked up six yards with a punishing run, setting up Barneys for another score. This time the speedy quarterback got to the edge and raced 66 yards for the touchdown, capping the scoring and delivering a division championship in a year when it wasn’t always a lock.
“The line pulled outside well and blocked the guys they were supposed to and I just saw the open cut-back and hit it,” Barneys said of his third score on the night. “But this is a great feeling because a lot of people didn’t think we’d be so great this year, losing so much from last year’s team. But we just keep on working and we got the job done.”
Barneys finished with 97 yards on 10 carries and added 97 more yards through the air on 9 of 14 passing, but did throw an interception in the red zone to kill an early drive. Lauderdale topped the century mark for the Patriots, rushing for 106 yards on 15 carries, including a 3-yard touchdown. The Patriots’ tailback is now over 1,000 yards rushing for the season.
After the Patriots took the 14-point lead with 2:45 left in the third quarter, South Plainfield embarked on a 15-play drive that carried into the fourth quarter, but it stalled out on the Colonia 10 after more than eight minutes. It was the second drive of the game of at least 14 plays for the Tigers that did not result in any points – a 14-play drive was cut down at the end of the first half.
“We didn’t play a clean game. South Plainfield’s plan was to eat the clock and run the ball and they did that in the first half,” Colonia head coach Tom Roarty said. “They chewed up the clock there in the second quarter, but the kids pulled together. It was a great night and a great way to win the division.”
South Plainfield’s Jason Lee was the game’s top performer, rushing 27 times for 164 yards, including a 26-yard touchdown in the first quarter, but the Tigers offense couldn’t make enough plays around Lee to mount a comeback.
“These kids never quit. We were 3-2 and I think a lot of people kind of wrote us off with the toughest part of our schedule coming up, but these are the types of kids we get here,” Roarty said. “They are tough and they don’t give up and give 150 percent every day. It showed with the defense tonight, not giving in and coming up with a couple of big fourth-down stands.”
Colonia will host a first-round playoff game in North 2 Group IV next Friday while South Plainfield looks to be heading out on the road in Central Group III.
SOUTH PLAINFIELD (6-2) 7-0-7-0-14
COLONIA (7-2) 0-7-21-0-28
SP – Lee 26 run (Lee kick)
C – Lauderdale 3 run (Ribiero kick)
C – C. Barneys 2 run (Ribiero kick)
C – C. Barneys 4 run (Ribiero kick)
SP – Torres 94 kick return (Lee kick)
C – C. Barneys 66 run (Ribiero kick)
Passing – SP: Waldrop 8-14-54, Lee 0-1-0; C: C. Barneys 9-14-97-1.
Rushing – SP: Lee 27-164, Delvecchio 8-40, Gonzalez 2-4, Waldrop 3-minus 7; C: Lauderdale 15-106, C. Barneys 10-97, B. Barneys 5-37, Piro 4-30, Santos 2-14, Benedicks 1-6.
Receiving – SP: Sapini 3-24, Delvecchio 2-19, Lee 2-7, Adams 1-6; C: Santos 3-34, B. Barneys 2-27, Benedicks 3-21, Manning 1-15.