One of the nation’s most historic and heated rivalry games came down to a holiday touchdown within the final minute, ruining one team’s perfect season in the process.
Easton, from Pennsylvania, scored with just 42 seconds remaining to cap a 21-14 victory against traditional rival Phillipsburg in the 111th Thanksgiving Day State Line game. Phillipsburg, a state power from Southern New Jersey, sits just across the state line from Easton, making the rivalry geographically unique and particularly heated as it takes place in its own universe, outside the traditional state bound of team records.
On Thursday, Easton running back Israel Selassie scored on a 14-yard run to the end zone following a pitch play with 42 seconds remaining in regulation with the subsequent extra point providing the final margin of victory. Phillipsburg, which dropped to 10-1 with the loss, had a final shot but fell short of the end zone … and a perfect regular season for the first time in 12 years.
To say that Easton rode it’s luck early is perhaps an understatement. Phillipsburg missed out on points on a pair of first half possessions in the red zone, once with an errant 25-yard field goal and a second when Easton’s Damion Smith intercepted a Jack Stagaard pass in the end zone.
That left the game tied 7-7 at the half, and Easton flipped the script in the third and fourth periods. The Rovers scored a go-ahead touchdown on the first possession of the third quarter, were able to hold Phillipsburg to one touchdown of its own — a 55-yard pass from Stagaard to wide receiver Nasir Ball early in the fourth — and then stole the victory in the final minute.
Easton finishes the season with an 8-5 record and, perhaps more importantly, a third-straight victory in the rivalry game to end all rivalry games. Phillipsburg will play in a North 2 Group 4 final against North Hunterdon next week.