Liao leads South Brunswick into Central Group V title game

MONMOUTH JCT. – The intellect of Josh Liao came to the forefront at the absolute biggest moment of the game and the South Brunswick football team’s season.

With the clock running on 4th-and-goal and the game tied 21-21, Liao made a heads-up decision to audible from a run to a pass, finding a wide open Mohamed Jabbie in the end zone as time expired, sending top-seeded South Brunswick to a 27-21 victory over fifth-seeded Manalapan on Friday night.

The win vaults the Vikings into the NJSIAA Central Group V title game on Dec. 5 against third-seeded Old Bridge, a 26-12 winner over New Brunswick on Friday night, in an all-GMC Red Division showdown for the sectional title.

“I looked at the sideline and they were yelling at me to spike the ball,” Liao said of the game’s final play. “I knew it was fourth down and we didn’t have any timeouts left, so we called a play to go up the middle, but I saw the Manalapan defense crashing in, so I thought about rolling outside to bye myself some time, so I rolled out and the corner came at me, and I saw Mo open and I hit him. It was a great play.”

Liao finished 16 of 21 for 185 yards and the winning touchdown, with a 33-yard completion to Wendell Allen on 3rd-and-22 with 2:40 remaining to continue the Vikings’ final drive.

“I saw Wendell and he has been working with me all summer and all season and he’s the fastest player on our team,” Liao said. “I said let’s give him a shot, and they had defense over the top and I tried to fit it in there and Wendell made a great catch and it was all him.”

Phil Campbell’s third touchdown run of the game put South Brunswick up 21-7 with 51 seconds left in the third quarter, seemingly putting the Vikings in command. But Manalapan showed the heart of a champion to battle back, scoring just 88 seconds into the fourth quarter on a Chris Maksimik 1-yard run to cut into the lead.

After South Brunswick went three-and-out, Jaier Garrett was back to punt, but he didn’t get the ball off of his foot and the Braves took over at the South Brunswick 34. Five plays later, Manalapan scored to knot the game at 21-21, when quarterback Luke Corcione hit Reily Radosevich for a 23-yard touchdown.

With exactly five minutes to play, the Vikings got the ball back and marched down the field on a 13-play, 69-yard drive, taking up every available second on the clock to advance to their third sectional final in the last four seasons.

“It wasn’t supposed to be that kind of a call,” Jabbie said of the game’s final play and his 10th catch of the night. “Josh made the call of his life and he popped it up to me and I was wide open and caught it.”

Jabbie, who has committed to play at Rutgers, will lead his Vikings onto the High Point Solutions Stadium turf after bringing in 10 passes for 85 yards.

“I just knew that I had to make a big play. Coach always says that big time players make big time plays in big time games,” Jabbie said.

Campbell finished with 63 yards on 22 carries and the three touchdowns for South Brunswick. Manalapan’s Marcus Salinas also had 63 yards rushing on 19 carries, but was held in check after a big opening drive in which he has eight carries for 41 yards. Corcione was 7 of 13 for 151 yards for the Braves, who had ended South Brunswick’s perfect season in the Central Group V final last December.

MANALAPAN (6-5) 7-0-0-14-21

SOUTH BRUNSWICK (9-1) 0-14-7-6-27

SCORING SUMMARY

M – Maksimik 1 run (Wiener kick)

SB – Campbell 1 run (Fehte kick)

SB – Campbell 11 run (Fehte kick)

SB – Campbell 1 run (Fehte kick)

M – Maksimik 1 run (Wiener kick)

M – Rodosevich 23 pass from Corcione (Wiener kick)

SB – Jabbie 1 pass from Liao

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

Passing – M: Corcione 7-13-151; SB: Liao 16-21-185.

Rushing – M: Salinas 19-63, Corcione 3-28, Mayfield 2-12, Maksimik 3-4; SB: Campbell 22-63, Liao 5-21, Allen 5-15.

Receiving – M: Scherzer 1-61, Mayfield 4-42, Salinas 1-25, Radosevich 1-23; SB: Jabbie 10-85, Shorter 3-42, Allen 1-33, Garrett 2-25.

Advertisements