Green Dragons bring tradition

Green Dragons bring tradition

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Green Dragons bring tradition

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BRICK

Brick and great football tradition go hand in hand. Over 50 years, the Green Dragons are perhaps the most successful program in the Shore Conference.

Yet Brick had not won a playoff game since 2,000. Brick is the Central Jersey Group IV sectional first seed and hosted West Windsor-Plainsboro North on Friday night in a quarterfinal.

Appreciating the importance of the game, Brick principal Dennis Filippone dusted off his 1972 Green Dragon letter jacket with the state championship patch, wearing it proudly on the sideline.

“I only bring this out for playoff games,” Filippone said. “I hope it helps.”

Brick survived an upstart Northern Knights team, giving up 194 yards passing to Kevin Murphy in the first half, and twice came from behind to defeat the eighth seed, 35-26, and advance into next weekend’s semifinals.

“In the first half, we did not represent Brick football,” coach Rob Dahl said. “We showed nerves, the tension of the boys trying to get this great program back and get a playoff win.”

West Windsor North (3-7), winners of three of its last four games, scored first on a 75-yard fumble recovery after Brick suffered a bad snap on a punt and led 20-14 at the half.

“We gave them a lift in the first half,” Dahl said. “They are an athletic team and we gave them life. In the second half, we played spirited Brick football.”

Brick gained control in the third quarter. Behind the determined rushing of Ray Fattaruso, the Dragons (7-3) opened the second half with a 12-run, 61 yard drive. Quarterback Carmen Sclafani, back after missing two games with a shoulder injury, faked a hand-off and darted in from 10 yards out for the touchdown. Anthony Starego’s extra point put Brick on top to stay, 21-20.

West Windsor North’s first play from scrimmage after Sclafani’s score may have been the biggest play of the game. JaQuaz Johnson stepped in front of Knight star receiver Juwan Harrison and raced 35 yards into the end zone with a pick-six interception return.

The Knights responded with their lone second-half score. Murphy drove them 79 yards, 66 through the air.

The two-point conversion failed and Brick remained in front, 28-26. Now overpowering the Knights at the line of scrimmage, Brick’s second drive of the half almost mirrored its first. Another 61-yard drive, this one took eight plays with Fattaruso rushing six times and scoring from 7 yards out over the left hashmark.

Brick led, 35-26, with 9:46 remaining and stymied the Knights the rest of the way in part because of Fattaruso’s strong blitzing of quarterback Murphy.

Fattaruso scored two first-half touchdowns, from 7 and 14 yards out, to put the Dragons in front, 14-6. The first score finished an 11-play drive, all runs. Fattaruso’s second touchdown followed a West Windsor turnover on its own botched snap on a fourth down punt attempt.

The Knights rallied on a 30-yard touchdown pass from Murphy to Jake O’Connell and took that 20-14 lead into the half after driving 85 yards late in the second quarter.

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