PISCATAWAY – Union went with its strength right away – No. 11 trying to get the ball to No. 1.
For the first time this year that quarterback-wide receiver combo took the field with Union down six points.
The goal for the Farmers was to erase early Curtis moment as fast as they could.
Sanborn’s (No. 11) first two passes of the year both went to Rutgers commit Ahmirr Robinson (No. 1), the second good for 76 yards on a slant left, with Robinson cutting across the field en route to a game-tying score.
Curtis scored its second touchdown on a short field after recovering a Union fumble. Union scored the game’s final touchdown on another Sanborn touchdown pass – this one to Kayir McBride – on the opening possession of the second half.
For the game’s final 22 minutes both teams had multiple chances to score but didn’t. Curtis had a touchdown called back because of a holding penalty and then subsequent penalties further pushed the Warriors back.
A sack by Union senior linebacker Charles Ozurumba sealed the win for the home team Farmers as Union defeated Curtis of Staten Island 20-12 in the middle game of Saturday’ season-opening Rumble on the Raritan card at Rutgers Stadium.
Sanborn was highly-efficient with his passing immediately, connecting on his first four throws. He finished 13-for-25 for 233 yards, two touchdowns, one interception and one lost fumble.
“Ahmirr and I wanted to set the tone, we got into a rhythm right away,” Sanborn said.
Sanborn was not perfect by any stretch. He lost a fumble that led to the second Curtis touchdown, while his interception – a lob pass deep in Union territory – almost led to a third Warrior TD.
“Nobody is going to be perfect over the course of a year,” Sanborn said.
Sanborn’s TD pass to Robinson was right in his No. 1, while his touchdown pass to McBride fooled the Curtis defense a bit after a brief pump fake.
“I have plenty of other targets who are capable of catching the ball,” Sanborn said.
Robinson finished with eight receptions for 161 yards. He had five for 130 in the first half. His second catch of the year found the end zone of the place he will play at the next level.
“That touchdown was unreal,” Robinson said. “I live for moments like that. This is going to be my future home, so it was special.”
After Union scored the game’s final points to extend its lead to 20-12, the remainder of the contest had the feel of a baseball game where there was no scoring from like the third inning on, but both teams had plenty of chances.
Preventing Curtis from reaching the end zone more than twice in the first half was Union senior linebacker Darius Presley, who was the most dominant defense player the first two quarters. He did not play in the second half after cramping issues.
“I wanted to continue in the second half,” Presley said. “In the first half we were trying to see where the reads were going. When No. 11 came in to play quarterback, sometimes he would fake to the running back.“
Any kind of fake did not fool Presley at all it seemed. He led Union with six tackles in the first half, several of them for losses.
“We worked in the weight room all summer to prepare for this game,” Presley said.
This was a game of big plays, many that were game-changers.
Here’s a closer look:
FIRST HALF BIG PLAYS:
On third and 24 from his own 14, Curtis senior quarterback Gennaro Basciano hit sophomore running back Samuel Martin over the middle for a 67- yard gain, Martin catching the ball at his own 45 and racing to the Union 19 before he was tackled by Jalen Carter. Curtis scored the game’s first points – which came on the game’s opening possession – Basciano eight yards to Martin five plays later.
Curtis senior linebacker Omoniyi Gabriel sacked Sanborn and caused the fumble that the Warriors recovered which led to their final score. Martin scored on an eight-yard run two plays later with 5:24 to go in the second quarter. The extra point failed, with Union remaining ahead 13-12.
SECOND HALF BIG PLAYS:
Curtis lost a fumble that Ozurumba recovered at the Warrior 26 with 7:17 to go in the third. However, Union was not able to capitalize on the miscue, with an incomplete pass on fourth-and-13 from the Curtis 29 ending the brief four-play possession.
Junior QB Alpha Linton (No. 11 for Curtis) tool the handoff and threw a 31-yard pass to Martin to give the Warriors a first-and-10 on the Union 40 with about six minutes to go in the third. The possession ended when Basciano was intercepted at the Union one-yard line by Union junior defensive back Desmond Igbinosun.
Curtis senior linebacker Anthony Picarello returned the interception favor on Union’s next possession, taking the lob pass away from the intended Union receiver and falling down on the Union four.
First-and-goal at the four became first-and-goal from the 14 after an offensive holding penalty negated Martin’s four-yard touchdown run right. That would have pulled Curtis to within 20-18, with the Warriors one play away from tying the game Then Curtis was pushed back five more yards for delay of game. Three plays later Ozurumba and junior defensive end Chris Williams combined for a sack and Union took over.
On its fifth possession of the second half, Curtis moved the ball to a first down at the Union 20. Sophomore running back Maurice Hinton was moving the chains with his elusive moves. On back-to-back carries he gained 13 yards. Then on a nine-yard run up the middle that saw him bounce off tacklers like a pinball, the ball came loose on his third hit, with Union junior defensive back Diante Wilson there for the crucial fumble recovery.
On third-and-six from the Union 22 with six minutes left, Wilson came up with a big tackle of Basciano from the back, grabbing his legs to bring him down and send him out of the game for one play. With Hinton at QB on the next play, Martin was stopped for no gain and Union held.
Union moved the ball to the Curtis 33 before its final possession stalled. Four plays later Ozurumba’s game-ending sack finally brought the game to its 20-12 conclusion.
NOTES: Union junior defensive end Terrell Cannon did not play the second half after coming out with a concussion.
RUMBLE ON THE RARITAN
Curtis, Staten Island (0-1) 06 06 00 00 – 12
Union, N.J. (1-0) 13 00 07 00 – 20
Curtis – Samuel Martin 8 pass from Gennaro Basciano,
kick failed (C 6-0)
8 plays, 72 yards, 2:46 used
Union – Ahmirr Robinson 76 pass from Andrew Sanborn,
kick failed (6-6)
3 plays, 80 yards, 2:42 used
Union – Dante Wilson 4 run, Ricardo Casas kick (U 13-6)
9 plays, 60 yards, 3:31 used
Curtis – Samuel Martin 8 run, kick failed (U 13-12)
2 plays, 11 yards, :31 used
Curtis capitalized on a turnover – a fumble recovery.
Union – Kayir McBride 44 pass from Andrew Sanborn,
Ricardo Casas kick (U 20-12)
6 plays, 79 yards, 2:15 used