First Round Recap

By Tom Szieber
Posted:  Sunday, November 13, 2016   9:25 pm

Check out Brian Carr's photo gallery from Bergen Catholic's victory over St. Augustine Prep.

With the current playoff setup, the first round of the postseason often brings with it a ton of blowouts. This weekend was no different, but there were still a host of nail biters, as well.
Take, for example, the controversial finish of Don Bosco Prep’s 14-13 victory over Seton Hall Prep in Non-Public, Group 4. On a third down following Bosco’s go-ahead touchdown, Pirates wide receiver Andrew Perez caught a pass from quarterback Cameron Carti that put Seton Hall at the Ironmen’s 25. However, Seton Hall mistakenly thought it had achieved a first down, and attempted a spike to stop the clock. The game official felt differently, determining that Perez’s progress had stopped in bounds. That call meant SHP’s spike turned the ball over on downs, effectively ending the game.
Shawnee squeaked out a victory in South, Group 4, beating Clearview 35-34 in overtime. Running back Dan Wigley pushed the game into the extra period when he scored a 13-yard touchdown with just 33 seconds left in regulation. Quarterback Colin Wetterau ended up punching it in from a yard out in overtime, and kicker Rich Demko’s extra point was the deciding point, as a two-point attempt by Clearview had failed moments earlier.
Union and Ridge produced similar drama, playing a tightly-contested shootout that ended 41-34 in double overtime on a 13-yard touchdown pass from Justin Beckett to wide out Nasir Wooten. Running back Al-Tariq Jones was among the catalysts for the Farmers, scoring long touchdown runs (of 42 and 78 yards) in the first quarter, and then punching in a key fourth-quarter score. The win is a huge momentum-shifter for Union, which had lost four of five (including three straight). They’ll face Westfield, to whom it lost in, 28-13, in October, in the semifinals.
Immaculata became one of two eight-seeds to upset a #1 (the other being High Point), downing Hudson Catholic in Non-Public, Group 2 on a 35-yard touchdown pass from from quarterback Nate Barnett to wide receiver Sean Gaffney with just 2.9 seconds to play. The win validated the Spartans as a real contender, as they’d just made the playoffs over St. Mary due to a strength-of-schedule tiebreaker. It seems they are finding a groove after a 3-4 start, having now won three straight over Montgomery, Phillipsburg and the Hawks.
And although Toms River North pulled out a 27-20 victory over eighth-seeded Atlantic City, they had to pull out all the stops to avoid an upset. The Vikings led, 6-0, at the half, and seemed set on pulling off a shocker. Behind running back Parker Day, though, the Mariners executed a 62-yard game-winning drive late in the fourth that ended on his 1-yard scoring plunge. Day finished the game with 147 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winner. The Mariners take on Howell in the South, Group 5 semis.

Tom Szieber can be reached by emailing