On a night of big plays, Burlington Township had the last word.
Khalil Trolman found Sam Gillison with a 36-yard touchdown pass with 26 seconds left to give the Falcons a wild 52-45 first-round Central Jersey Group IV playoff victory over Middletown South Friday night. The play was set up by a brave call when Burlington (6-3) called a fake punt from its own 41 on fourth-and-10 with just under three minutes to play. Halfback Jahsiem Rover took the direct snap and raced 10 yards to keep the drive alive. Gillison’s touchdown came six plays later.
“I thought worst case, we’d go to overtime,” Middletown South coach Steve Antonucci said. “But give our guys credit. They came back from two touchdowns down in the fourth quarter.”
Jeremy Concepcion’s 37-yard touchdown run with 3:32 to play drew South (4-5) even at 45. The run came two minutes after Kyle Brey connected with Cole Rogers with a 7-yard touchdown pass to bring the Eagles within 45-38.
Trolman’s 1-yard sneak with 6:51 to play had given Burlington a 45-31 lead. The Falcons appeared ready to salt the game away until Martin Berke fell on a Burlington fumble at the South 7 on the next Burlington possession to set the stage for the Eagles’ comeback. The Eagles had built a 24-15 halftime edge via a one-yard sneak by Brey in the first quarter, and a 28-yard strike from Brey to freshman James McCarthy and 45-yard interception return by Andrew Wisialko in the second period. Matt Mosquera booted a 22-yard field goal for South to close the opening possession of the game.
But Burlington answered in the first half with an 80-yard kickoff return from Everett Womley and a 7-yard halfback option pass from Rover to Trolman. Trolman found Gillison for a 68-yard score midway through the third quarter to bring the Falcons with 24-22. South answered with a 13-yard touchdown run by Concepcion, but Trolman responded with a scoring pass of 25 yards to Rover. Rover’s 9-yard run with 8:39 to play gave Burlington a 37-31 lead.
“Our guys showed a lot of fight, but mistakes killed us,” Antonucci said.