Piscataway’s latest postseason run was fueled by a four-game winning streak in which it allowed a total of 47 points.
An explosive Union team was able to match that point total by itself Friday night, rolling up 303 yards of total offense in defeating the Chiefs, 47-24, in the semifinal round of the NJSIAA North 2 Group V playoffs.
Jamauri Bogan powered Union with 157 yards and four touchdowns on 28 carries.
The loss denied Piscataway in its bid for a remarkable fourth consecutive appearance in the sectional final as the Chiefs will turn in their uniforms before December for the first time since 2009.
“It’s been an incredible journey,” Piscataway coach Dan Higgins said. “I’m so proud of the team and the effort. We didn’t stop fighting the whole way. We ran into a great opponent.”
Union scored on four of its first five possessions requiring a total of 23 plays, 22 of those on the ground as the Farmers gashed the Piscataway defense for 204 rushing yards in the first half alone on 24 carries.
“We really couldn’t stop the run tonight,” Higgins said. “I thought their line played really well and we even tried an extra defensive lineman. They’re very blessed with their athleticism but their line did a good job. When you can’t stop the run you’re not going to win.”
Union needed just six plays, all on the ground, to march 63 yards in the game’s first possession with Bogan staking it to a 7-0 lead with a 32-yard run off left tackle that he bounced outside.
Piscataway gave up the ball on downs at the Union 28 but got it back at the 11 one play later following a Farmer fumble. A holding penalty on the first play of the series pushed the Chiefs back and they eventually settled for a 29-yard field goal by Ryan Kushnicki.
Union extended its lead to 21-3 before Piscataway found the end zone on a four-play, 80-yard drive that began with a 17-yard jaunt by Elijah Pierson and ended with a 57-yard burst off right tackle by the junior back with 7:06 left in the half.
The Farmers answered with their longest drive of the half, an eight-play, 77-yard march that ended with a 55-yard touchdown run by Jabree Robertson for a 28-11 lead at the break.
The momentum appeared to shift in the second half as Piscataway took the kick and cruised 83 yards in 11 plays with Oladiran Isijola making a nifty grab in the deep right corner of the end zone on a pass from Justin Strother to reduce the deficit to 28-18.
The Chiefs then forced the lone Union punt of the evening and took over at its 35, poised to make it a one-possession game. But, in a contest that featured 71 points and relatively few outstanding plays on defense, Union made the biggest by stopping Piscataway on a fourth-and-one from its 44, and things quickly went downhill from there.
“We knew we had to keep going,” Higgins said. “We knew we were going to havd trouble stopping them so we wanted to possess the ball. That was a huge pivotal moment.”
Bogan upped the margin back to 34-18 with an 18-yard touchdown run but the Chiefs weren’t done. Strother connected with Juwaan Walker, who made a diving catch in the end zone for a 28-yard scoring pass to narrow the gap to 34-24 after a failed two-point try.
But Piscataway would not score again and Union still had two more scores in it., including Bogan’s fourth and 52-yard fumble return by Uchenna Eqwuonwu.
Strother completed 10 of 21 passes for 181 yards and two scores while Pierson led the rushing attack with 132 yards on 13 carries.
U – Bogan 38 run (Dagnone kick)
P – Kushnicki 29 FG
U – Robertson 55 run (Dagnone kick)
U – Bogan 1 run (Dagnone kick)
P – Pierson 57 run (Kushnicki kick)
U – Robertson 29 run (Dagnone kick)
P – Isijola 19 pass from Strother (Kushnicki kick)
U – Bogan 18 run (kick failed)
P – Walker 28 pass from Strother (run failed)
U – Bogan 15 run (Dagnone kick)
RUSHING: P – Pierson 13-132, Barnwell 10-40, Foat 2-2, Davis 1-1, Haus 1-(-8), Strother 3-(-10); U – Bogan 28-157, Robertson 11-115, Rios 4-0.
PASSING: P – Strother 10-21-1-181; U – Rios 2-2-0-31.
RECEIVING: P – Isijola 4-54, Walker 3-63, Bush 1-25, Lumor 1-20, Eley 1-19 ; U – Lee 1-23, Iroha 1-8.