Dan Higgins might not have been happy to watch his Piscataway defense commit three penalties to assist North Brunswick on an 80-yard touchdown drive that gave the Raiders a 7-6 lead early in the second quarter, but he was pleased by what followed.
The Chiefs limited North Brunswick to 23 yards over its next five possessions and scored 29 unanswered points on their way to a 35-7 win Friday night in the Greater Middlesex Conference Red Division.
Elijah Barnwell had three first-half touchdowns and finished with 132 yards on 13 carries for Piscataway. The Chiefs also got a 72-yard kick return for a score from Oladiran Isijola to open the second half.
“We did what we had to do,” Higgins said. “We were a little bit sloppy in the first half, but I was much happier in the second half with our performance, especially the line play. Overall it was a good performance, but we have to keep getting better because bigger games are coming in the future.”
Barnwell’s first touchdown came on the Chiefs’ first drive, a 44-yard march set up by Tyrell Bush’s 33-yard punt return. Barnwell scored on a 24-yard run with 8:25 remaining in the first quarter.
North Brunswick (0-8) took the lead, 7-6, with 10:37 in the first half thanks to a 13-play, 62-yard drive that was aided by three Chiefs penalties, including flags for unsportsmanlike conduct and pass interference. Rafieu Alharazim capped the march with a 5-yard touchdown pass to B.J. Pryor on fourth-and-3.
The touchdown followed an offside penalty on Piscataway as the Raiders were lining up for a field goal.
“Those are the disappointing things, where we had breakdowns,” Higgins said. “That’s the stuff we really need to address, which is mostly mental. We can’t allow ourselves to get distracted and not be sharp mentally because anybody can beat you on any given day.
“But I like how we responded; that’s what is most important. Kids are going to go up and down, be a little bit inconsistent. That’s what you’re looking for; you want to see how they respond. Not everything is going to go right all the time, so if they respond well, you know you can work with it.”
Piscataway needed two minutes to answer, with Barnwell running for 49 yards on two carries, the second a 14-yard scoring scamper. Justin Strother’s conversion run gave the Chiefs a 14-7 lead.
“I was just thinking we need to get back on offense and do what we need to do,” said Barnwell, who had 111 yards on 10 carries in the first half. “It was very important (to score); we couldn’t let them get too much momentum. It was big.
“I think our performance was good,” he added. “We were a little sloppy on a couple things, but the offensive line and defensive line did a great job. But we still need to go back to practice and work a little harder for next week against East Brunswick.”
Barnwell scored for the third time in the first half on a 15-yard run with 1:09 to go prior to intermission.The run capped a 10-play, 80-yard drive during which Elijah Pierson rushed for 26 yards and Malachi Bobbit had a 17-yard reception.
Isijola’s kick return made it 28-7 to start the third quarter and Elijah Pierson’s 20-yard touchdown run with 6:37 remaining in the fourth quarter capped the scoring.
“We’ve been growing through mistakes all season long,” Higgins said. “The one thing I like about this team is they do take coaching very well and they adjust very well. As long as they keep doing that, we’re going to keep getting better.”
|North Brunswick (0-8)||0||7||0||0||—||7|
P – Barnwell 24 run (kick blocked)
NB – Pryor 5 pass from Alharazim (Pereyra kick)
P – Barnwell 14 run (Strother run)
P – Barnwell 15 run (Kuchnicki kick)
P – Isijola 72 kick return (Kuchnicki kick)
P – Pierson 20 run (Kuchnicki kick)
RUSHING: NB – Bonds 5-23, Emannuel 8-11, Alharazim 10-8, Puentes 7-7; P – Barnwell 13-132, Pierson 14-87, Foat 4-14, McGriff 1-8, Strother 1-4.
PASSING: NB – Alharazim 9-21-0-64; P – Strother 3-7-0-37.
RECEIVING: NB – May 2-27, Castellanos 2-12, Rodriguez 1-19, Thomas 1-7, Pryor 1-5, Montalvo 1-minus 1, Emannuel 1-minus 5; P – Bobbit 1-17, Walker 1-12, Pierson 1-8.