HOBOKEN – Did Brearley manage to pull off the upset and win its playoff game Friday night at defending champion Hoboken?
However, the Bears hung in there for about as long as they could and led the game until there was just 35 seconds left in the first half.
Ahead by just four at intermission, Hoboken came out determined to dominate in the final 24 minutes. That’s exactly what the Red Wings did.
Fourth-seeded Hoboken scored on its first two possessions of the second half and reached the end zone one more time in the fourth quarter to produce a convincing 32-14 North 2, Group 1 first round victory over fifth-seeded Brearley Friday night at JFK Stadium.
All four quarterfinals were contested Friday night, with the higher-seeded home teams all winning.
That sets up next Friday’s (Nov. 18) 7 p.m. semifinals which pit fourth-seeded Hoboken at top-seeded Weequahic and third-seeded Shabazz at second-seeded Bound Brook.
Before the player of the game – Wilden Germain – got going – the Hoboken No. 9-wearing quarterback rushed for 250 yards and three TDs and completed 10-of-17 passes for 100 yards, one TD and no interceptions – Brearley was holding its own and ahead after scoring first.
After Brearley began with the ball and then its first possession stalled at its own 43, the Bears punted to Hoboken. On first down Germain tried to gain yardage up the middle, but was stripped of the ball by Brearley senior lineman Robert Moscicki, who also recovered the fumble.
Starting its next possession at the Hoboken nine, Brearley reached the end zone for the first time and only time in the first half when junior quarterback Mike Ramos ran in from the four-yard line on second down. Ramos then ran in the two-point conversion to make the score 8-0 in favor of the Bears.
Hoboken fumbled away the ensuing kickoff, with the ball recovered by Brearley’s Richard Ermeus, giving the Bears a first down at the Hoboken 20. However, this time the Bears could not capitalize on a Hoboken turnover, with the drive stalling at the Hoboken 21. Ramos almost completed a pass for a touchdown in the right corner of the end zone that went incomplete.
In the middle of the second quarter a punt by Brearley senior Nicholas Arcieri reached the Hoboken 50, plus 15 yards were tacked on for Brearley putting its hands on a Hoboken player trying to make a fair catch.
Five plays later Hoboken finally reached the end zone on a two-yard run up the middle by Germain.
After holding Brearley to a three-and-out, Hoboken’s offense went back to work again, this time from its own eight-yard line after a fine, 58-yard Arcieri punt.
Mixing the run with passes thrown over the middle to such receivers as Nyjon Freeman and Ricardo Colon, Germain led Hoboken down the field for its go-ahead score inside the first half’s final minute of play.
Hoboken’s 12-8 lead after the first two quarters included the Red Wings holding Brearley to just 25 yards of first half total offense.
“We really didn’t have the ball that much in the first half,” Brearley head coach Scott Miller said.
Brearley junior running back Khalid Bonnet was limited to just one carry in the first 24 minutes, but it was erased because of a Brearley penalty.
Bonnet came back in the second half to carry the ball eight times for 30 yards and one TD.
Ramos had some success running the ball early on when he faked to the running back and ran to the left side.
“We do run some veer, with the read by the quarterback,” Miller said.
Brearley could no longer contain Germain once the second half began as Hoboken, which defeated Brearley 34-12 in the final a year ago, wore down the Bears physically.
“That was our theme this year, playing a nice first half and then wearing down in the second half,” Miller said. “I think a lot of that is our kids playing both ways.”
Hoboken’s first two scoring drives in the second half came before and after another Brearley zero first downs possession.
“Hoboken scores on its opening drive in the second half and then we went three and out,” Miller said. “That’s where they started to move away.”
Hit hard by graduation, Brearley managed to get out to a 4-1 start and then its fifth win was over Group 2 New Providence.
“Our kids fought hard,” Miller said. “We had some nice wins this year.
“Our goal is to always make the playoffs and we did that. We only lose seven seniors, so with the number of kids we have coming back, we have something to build on for next year.”
NOTES: Brearley qualified in N2, G1 for the fourth straight season.
Moscicki made several key tackles in the first half, including one assisted by junior lineman Kairi Days that halted a Hoboken drive at the Brearley 19.
As long as schools such as Hoboken, Weequahic and Shabazz are included in North 2, Group 1, much smaller teams such as Brearley, Roselle Park and Glen Ridge have no shot of advancing past them.
Brearley’s first round playoff game 30 years ago – also in North 2, Group 1 – was the famous 19-16 victory in five overtimes by the third-seeded Bears at second-seeded New Providence.
Miller, a senior at Brearley Regional that season, played in that game. Brearley went on to repeat as the section’s champion by winning the final at top-seeded Roselle Park 28-7.
“What I remember the most about the New Providence game is that they kept on getting the ball first in every overtime session,” Miller said.
2016 NORTH 2, GROUP 1 FIRST ROUND GAME
5-BREARLEY (5-5) 08 00 00 06 – 14
4-HOBOKEN (6-4) 00 12 14 06 – 32
BREARLEY – Mike Ramos 4 run, Mike Ramos run (B 8-0)
2 plays, 9 yards, :44 used
Brearley capitalizes on a turnover – a fumble recovery by Robert Moscicki.
HOBOKEN – Wilden Germain 2 run, run failed (B 8-6)
5 plays, 36 yards, 1:38 used
HOBOKEN – Nyjon Freeman 3 run, pass failed (H 12-8)
13 plays, 92 yards, 3:32 used
HOBOKEN – Michael Effinger 5 pass from Wilden Germain, pass failed
9 plays, 63 yards, 4:28 used
HOBOKEN – Wilden Germain 12 run, Wilden Germain run (H 26-8)
8 plays, 55 yards, 3:49 used
HOBOKEN – Wilden Germain 1 run, kick failed (H 32-8)
2 plays, 23 yards, :39 used
Hoboken capitalizes on a turnover – a Brearley fumble on a punt return.
BREARLEY – Khalid Bonnet 3 run, run failed (H 32-14)
10 plays, 65 yards, 5:04 used
2016 NORTH 2, GROUP 1 FOOTBALL
SEEDS: 1-Weequahic. 2-Bound Brook. 3-Shabazz. 4-Hoboken.
5-Brearley. 6-Glen Ridge. 7-Newark Collegiate. 8-Roselle Park.
Friday, Nov. 11
Weequahic 44, Roselle Park 18 – at Weequahic
Hoboken 32, Brearley 14 – at Hoboken
Bound Brook 34, Newark Collegiate 18 – at Bound Brook
Shabazz 34, Glen Ridge 10 – at Shabazz
Friday, Nov. 18
4-Hoboken at 1-Weequahic, 7 p.m.
3-Shabazz at 2-Bound Brook, 7 p.m.
2016 BREARLEY BEARS (5-5)
(H) Brearley 22, Pingry 8
(A) Belvedere 27, Brearley 0
(H) Brearley 47, South Hunterdon 0
(H) Brearley 29, Roselle Park 7
(A) Brearley 22, Dayton 21
(A) Manville 28, Brearley 21
(A) Bound Brook 34, Brearley 7
(H) Brearley 27, New Providence 13
(H) Hillside 34, Brearley 0
(A) Hoboken 32, Brearley 14
Head coach: Scott Miller,
Section: North 2, Group 1
Conference: Mid-State 38
Division: Union 4-3
Points for: 189
Points against: 204
2016 ROSELLE PARK PANTHERS (3-6)
One more game to go.
(A) Roselle Park 33, South Hunterdon 0
(A) Roselle Park 32, Dayton 0
(H) Belvidere 24, Roselle Park 20
(A) Brearley 29, Roselle Park 7
(H) Bound Brook 15, Roselle Park 8
(A) Pingry 27, Roselle Park 26
(H) New Providence 11, Roselle Park 0
(A) Roselle Park 32, Manville 22
(A) Weequahic 44, Roselle Park 18
Nov. 24 Roselle, 10:30 a.m.
Head coach: Terry Hanratty,
Section: North 2, Group 1
Conference: Mid-State 38
Division: Union 3-4
Points for: 176
Points against: 172