WOODBRIDGE – Although the Middlesex County All-Stars were outgained in total yards for the first 30 minutes, defensively they more than held their own – led by linebacker Luke Vizzoni of Bishop Ahr.
Middlesex limited the Union County All-Stars to just one score and that came after Middlesex already had a two-touchdown lead.
Middlesex scored single touchdowns in the final three quarters en route to producing a convincing 22-6 triumph in Thursday night’s MyCentralJersey.com Snapple Bowl XXV at Woodbridge High School’s Nicholas A. Priscoe Stadium.
Vizzoni, in on several key tackles, was named the Joe Poli Snapple Bowl MVP.
Middlesex snapped a two-game losing streak and now leads the series 15-10. This was the second game played at Woodbridge, with Union County winning the first one here two years ago.
All proceeds go to the Children’s Specialized Hospital in Mountainside and the Lakeview School for children with disabilities in Edison. A total of $642,000 was raised prior to this year’s game, with the record being $55,000 from the first Snapple Bowl played here in 2016.
Coaches honored at halftime included Middlesex County Coach of the Year P.J. Jankowicz of Middlesex and Union County Coach of the Year Barris Grant of Hillside, while the Service Award went to Colonia head coach Tom Roarty. In 2014 Roarty was named Middlesex County Coach of the Year.
Jankowicz led Middlesex to last fall’s Central Jersey, Group 1 crown and Grant guided Hillside to the Central Jersey, Group 2 title.
After a scoreless first quarter, Middlesex reached the end zone in the second quarter when running back Donavan Benoit of Edison scored on a one-yard run.
After Union held Middlesex at its own three following a Middlesex interception, a fumble occurred on the exchange on first down, with Union quarterback Taj Irby of Hillside having to fall on the ball in the end zone.
The play resulted in a safety, giving Middlesex a 9-0 lead, which it eventually took with it into the locker room at halftime.
A fake punt in which Luke Pero of Colonia ran for an 18-yard gain on fourth-and-three gave Middlesex a first-and-10 on the Union 25 early in the third quarter.
A 10-yard run straight ahead by running back Dwayne Sharpe of Carteret put the ball at the Union 15 for another first down.
Two plays later Pero took the hand off, moved right and completed a 13-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Ahmed Aly of Edison. Dylan Kriz’s second extra point put Middlesex up 16-0.
Union managed to answer on its next drive for what would be its only points. A pass from Union quarterback Antonio Salcfas of Dayton to Union wide receiver Andy Martin of Union High on the right side was good for 20 yards and gave Union a first-and-goal at the Middlesex four.
Two plays later from the four, Salcfas hit wide receiver Chuck Ifewekwune of Union High over the middle with a slant pass that beat single coverage. Ifewekwune cradled the pass two-handed and managed to keep the ball from hitting the ground.
Union went for two, with Salcfas running the option left. It appeared that he broke the plane for two points, but the ref nearest the play ruled that he didn’t, with the score remaining 16-6.
The final score came in the fourth quarter when Middlesex quarterback Paul Cocozziello of St. Joseph’s, Metuchen completed a pass to Tyler Jack of Perth Amboy that covered 64 yards down the right sideline.
NOTES: Vizzoni is the first Snapple Bowl MVP from Bishop Ahr. The only Middlesex County school that has produced two Snapple Bowl MVPs is South Brunswick, with Kenny Rogers in 1996 and Mike Muha in 2010.
Game Director and Founder Marcus Borden said that South Brunswick is in the running for hosting the 27th game in 2020. Middlesex won the only other Snapple Bowl played at South Brunswick by the score of 13-7 in 2006.
Next year’s 26th game will take place at Kean University’s Alumni Stadium in Union.
SNAPPLE BOWL XXV AT WOODBRIDGE HIGH SCHOOL
Union (10-15) 00 00 06 00 – 06
Middlesex (15-10) 00 09 07 06 – 22
Middlesex – Donavan Benoit 1 run, Dylan Kriz kick,
Middlesex – Safety, Union quarterback Taj Irby falls on fumble in end zone, (M 9-0)
Middlesex – Ahmed Aly 13 pass from Luke Pero (who took hand off),
Dylan Kriz kick,
Union – Chuck Ifewekwune 4 pass from Antonio Salcfas, run failed,
Middlesex – Tyler Jack 64 pass from Paul Cocozziello, conversion fails,