South Brunswick High’s offense failed to put up big numbers in its season opener Friday night, but small numbers added up to plenty.
The Vikings started four scoring drives inside East Brunswick territory — two from inside the red zone — on their way to a 34-0 victory at Jay Doyle Field in a Greater Middlesex Conference Red Division game, making a winner of head coach Joe Goerge in his South Brunswick debut.
Sophomore running back/defensive back Dontae Strickland blocked two punts that set up touchdowns, caught a 30-yard pass that led to another TD, and scored on a 10-yard run to help lift the third-ranked Vikings to the win.
“Field position is so critical,” Goerge said. “It’s hard to overcome that at any level when you let a team drive a short field. That was a big part of what happened tonight.”
The Vikings scored on drives of 19, 56, 40 and 17 yards to build a 27-0 halftime advantage.
South Brunswick quarterback T.J. Perkowski, who scored on runs of 11 and 4 yards, completed 5 of 7 passes for 70 yards. Dion Hooper, who found the end zone on a 34-yard run that capped the scoring early in the third quarter, was the leading ground-gainer with 62 yards on eight carries.
“We were good on offense, but I think we needed to be a little more consistent,” Goerge said. “We didn’t have a great tempo, but we didn’t have tempo because the ball was in a short field for us. We’ll take that anytime.”
South Brunswick’s defense gave up a total of 33 yards on the Bears’ first three possessions, but limited East Brunswick to minus-21 over its next six trips and recovered two fumbles that led to touchdowns.
“We made some adjustments, not so much in our schemes, but just in terms of reading what they were doing on offense,” Goerge said. “We’re very young up front on defense, got a lot of new kids playing, but they really held on.”
South Brunswick got on the board quickly. After forcing a three-and-out deep in East Brunswick territory, Strickland got the first of his two blocked punts to set up Perkowski’s 13-yard pass to T.J. Taylor and 10-yard touchdown run.
Perkowski’s 30-yard pass to Strickland on the Vikings’ next possession set up Hooper’s 5-yard TD scamper to give South Brunswick a 13-0 lead.
Strickland’s second blocked punt resulted in a 40-yard scoring drive by the Vikings, capped by Perkowski’s 4-yard run.
Nick Mecca’s fumble recovery moments later led to Strickland’s 10-yard touchdown run to give South Brunswick its 27-point lead at intermission.
“We did what we had to do for this victory,” Strickland said. “Everybody was waiting for this. The coaches were ready, the players were ready. Everybody was talking down about us, but the defense stepped it up and the offense did what it had to do.”