HADDON TWP. – Thomas Curley stood along the fence at Marvin L. Roberts Memorial Field. Next to his white Mercury sedan, the former coach, teacher and administrator leaned forward and looked at the brand new trophy that bears his name.
“This kid Brian Furlong is a heckuva high school quarterback,” the 85-year-old Curley said. “He’d make any team good.”
The Audubon High School gunslinger made the Green Wave good enough on Thursday in a 31-16 win over Haddon Township.
His prize, a final win in yellow and green as well as the first-ever hoist of the Curley Cup trophy.
“It all starts with Brian,” Audubon coach Dominic Koehl said. “We put everything on Brian.”
Things didn’t start seamlessly for Furlong and his Green Wave (5-5). The 6-foot-6 senior completed only four passes in the team’s first three drives combined. A 31-yard field goal from Kelly Devlin stood as the lone score until final minutes of the second quarter.
A goal-line stand gave the ball to Furlong at the 3-yard line with 2 minutes, 20 seconds left. He got to work. Furlong went 6-for-7 for 85 yards on a touchdown drive.
Fittingly, the lanky quarterback capped the long march with a 9-yard run.
“The first few drives, I’ve never been that nervous in a high school game before,” Furlong said. “Once we get rolling, it’s hard to stop.”
But the undermanned Hawks would not go away easily. A five-play touchdown drive to open the third quarter and two-point conversion trimmed the score to 10-8.
A 4-yard touchdown run from Emmanuel Coleman made it 17-8 on the next possession.
After another turnover on downs forced, Audubon got the cushion it needed. Furlong again did the heavy lifting.
Four yards to Joseph Zuccarelli. Five more to Zachary Pergola, who played the game with a cast on his left hand after he had surgery to repair a broken thumb last week. Then back to Pergola for 15, Zuccarelli for two and a 13-yard pass to Daniel Wilson.
With 8:19 left in the game, Pergola caught a 15-yard score. The tight end grabbed five passes for 80 yards. A first cousin of Furlong, the 6-foot-1 target helped solidify the air attack.
“Everyone left it all out there,” Pergola said. “Everyone gave it 110 percent.”
Despite a late touchdown from gritty quarterback Kurtis Straubmuller and conversion, Haddon Township couldn’t catch the Wave.
Coleman’s 1-yard plunge put the game away with 90 seconds to play.
The Hawks (0-10) got the most out of their group of about 30 players. Leading rusher Brandon Hopkins gained more than 100 yards. He wasn’t even on the roster in the game programs.
“At first we did take them lightly,” Coleman said. “I truly did gain respect for them. I can see how sad they are. I’m sad too. This is one of the saddest moments of my life, the last game of my career.”
Cramps, vomit and injuries frequently halted play for those in red. It proved a game effort.
“We started this year with less than 30 kids,” coach Rick Pentz said as his voice cracked, overcome with emotion. “Heart, soul and bodies. You can’t imagine what these seniors gave to this program.”
In a game full of tough kids, there was no talent greater than Furlong and that proved the difference. He finished with 225 yards through the air on 18-of-24 passing.
The star soaked in the moment, hands around the brand new trophy with all of the rivalry’s scores affixed to the base.
Curley coached on both sides in the big game that dates back to 1965.
“Coach Curley is a great guy who knows how tough these games are,” Furlong said. “This will look good in Audubon’s halls.”
Mark Trible; (856) 486-2424; email@example.com
HADDON TWP. 16
Play of the game: Audubon quarterback Brian Furlong’s six completions and subsequent 9-yard TD run in a 97-yard drive before halftime to make the score 10-0.
Player of the game: Furlong, who threw for 225 yards on 18-of-24 passing and a score in his final game as Green Wave QB.
Well said: “This will look good in Audubon’s halls.” – Furlong on winning the first Curley Cup trophy.