Defense anchors North Brunswick in victory over rival South Brunswick

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The North Brunswick Township High School football team celebrates winning the Mike Elko Memorial Trophy and defeating rival South Brunswick 14-7 on Nov. 6 in South Brunswick.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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North Brunswick Township High School wide receiver Marquis Perry runs the ball off the jet sweep handoff during the team's game against South Brunswick on Nov. 6 in South Brunswick. North Brunswick is 6-0 on the season.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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South Brunswick High School running back Majid Howard-Baker runs the ball up the sideline during the team's game against North Brunswick on Nov. 6 in South Brunswick. South Brunswick is 4-2 on the season.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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North Brunswick Township High School running back DeJhon Thomas runs the ball up the middle during the team's game against South Brunswick on Nov. 6 in South Brunswick. North Brunswick defeated South Brunswick 14-7.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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South Brunswick High School running back Jacob Brokaw runs the ball off the jet sweep handoff during the team's game against North Brunswick on Nov. 6 in South Brunswick.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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The North Brunswick Township High School football team celebrates winning the Mike Elko Memorial Trophy and defeating rival South Brunswick 14-7 on Nov. 6 in South Brunswick.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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North Brunswick Township High School wide receiver Marquis Perry runs the ball off the jet sweep handoff during the team's game against South Brunswick on Nov. 6 in South Brunswick. North Brunswick is 6-0 on the season.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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South Brunswick High School running back Majid Howard-Baker runs the ball up the sideline during the team's game against North Brunswick on Nov. 6 in South Brunswick. South Brunswick is 4-2 on the season.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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North Brunswick Township High School running back DeJhon Thomas runs the ball up the middle during the team's game against South Brunswick on Nov. 6 in South Brunswick. North Brunswick defeated South Brunswick 14-7.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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South Brunswick High School running back Jacob Brokaw runs the ball off the jet sweep handoff during the team's game against North Brunswick on Nov. 6 in South Brunswick.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF

SOUTH BRUNSWICK – The Mike Elko Memorial Trophy is staying in the halls of North Brunswick Township High School.

Two touchdown passes by sophomore quarterback Frankie Garbolino to David DeLoatch III and two crucial interceptions on defense in the fourth quarter led the North Brunswick football team to a 14-7 victory over rival South Brunswick High School on Friday night in South Brunswick.

North Brunswick’s victory over its rival for the second year in a row culminates a perfect regular season for the Raiders, who stand now at 6-0 on the season.

“We talked about the meaning of the game and how it’s not just us on the field, but also the guys that wore the blue and gold the past 46 years and what this game meant to them,” said North Brunswick Coach Michael Cipot.

“We want to treat it like another game, but it really isn’t. The kids did a good job of buying into what it meant to the seniors and the coaches who played in this game to keep the trophy home. It was a great team win.”

North Brunswick got on the board first late in the first half of a defensive battle between the two rivals.

Following being stopped down in the red zone on its previous possession by the South Brunswick defense, North Brunswick struck quickly to gain the early lead with 2:12 to go in the half.

Garbolino and DeLoatch connected for an eight-yard reception to start the drive, and hooked up again two plays later, with DeLoatch finding the end zone for the Raiders.

The senior caught a quick slant pass off play action from his sophomore quarterback and turned it into a 34-yard race to the end zone for his first touchdown of the night to put North Brunswick up 6-0.

North Brunswick took its touchdown lead into the half, but South Brunswick answered right back with its own score to begin the second half.

Sophomore quarterback Vincent Jairdullo helped South Brunswick convert a third down and 25 with a beautiful 32-yard pass to Damarion Potts.

It led to Jairdullo finishing off the drive a couple plays later with his 16th score of the season on a one-yard touchdown run that helped South Brunswick take a one-point lead with placekicker Jai Patel converting the extra-point try.

The Raiders were now the ones trailing and were close to seeing that deficit increase with South Brunswick marching down inside the North Brunswick 30-yard line to begin the fourth quarter.

North Brunswick needed its defense to make a play, and the Raiders got what they wished for when sophomore linebacker William Wilson intercepted Jairdullo’s pass to get the ball back for Garbolino and the North Brunswick offense.

Garbolino knew his squad needed to take advantage of the turnover and made sure to execute that with his second touchdown pass of the night.

After he picked up a first down with his legs for the Raiders, Garbolino hooked up again with DeLoatch, hitting the senior wide receiver in stride up the right sideline for a 65-yard touchdown to help North Brunswick retake the lead.

Garbolino then helped North Brunswick convert the two-point conversion by running in for the two-yard score to make it a 14-7 lead for the Raiders.

“I just knew I had to be a playmaker and put points on the board,” Garbolino said. “The defense played well all night. We had to use the momentum off the pick to put the (ball) in the end zone and that’s what we did.”

The sophomore now has 13 touchdown passes on the season and threw for 209 yards in the victory.

DeLoatch had six catches for 165 yards. The senior has racked up all four of his touchdowns this season in the last two games.

“It feels amazing. It feels like winning the Super Bowl,” DeLoatch said on the victory over South Brunswick.

“Even through the storm if things are not going right, you just have to believe in yourself and everything will come to light. I believe in my own words. I was able to capitalize on big plays. It was a good team win overall.”

The North Brunswick defense once again got a huge turnover to stop a South Brunswick drive deep in Raider territory.

Senior Jelani Devonish-Wynter picked off Jairdullo in the end zone for North Brunswick’s second interception of the quarter.

North Brunswick forced a total of three turnovers in the contest. Junior Favion Johnson had a fumble recovery as well for the Raiders.

“We said it was going to be a grind and we came up with plays when we needed it the most,” Cipot said. “I’m really proud of the defense.”

South Brunswick also forced three turnovers on the night and had two interceptions.

Sophomore Khiri Summers had one of the interceptions for South Brunswick, picking off Garbolino in the end zone to complete a South Brunswick goal line stand during the second quarter.

North Brunswick was able to run out the clock off the interception by Devonish-Wynter.

Garbolino and DeLoatch connected for a huge 31-yard completion to convert a third down and six for the Raiders.

With South Brunswick out of timeouts, North Brunswick needed just one yard to keep the chains moving on fourth down and run out the clock with 1:12 left to play.

Garbolino and the North Brunswick offensive line got the yard the Raiders needed to win the ball game and earn their 13th straight regular season victory dating back to last year.

“Once I saw the ball past the sticks, I went nuts,” Garbolino said. “This by far is my favorite game so far. To be able to keep the trophy at home feels good.”

It’s the first time since 2003-04 that North Brunswick has won back-to-back meetings against South Brunswick.

With the Big Central Football Conference beginning its postseason pods next week, North Brunswick will try to continue to stay perfect on the season when they play Old Bridge on Nov. 13.

The Raiders have already shown that even with graduating 20 seniors from last year’s nine-win team that they are still a top-program in the conference.

“No one every thought that we would be 6-0, but the players in our locker room believed that,” Cipot said. “Credit to these kids and this senior group for sticking together and buying into the program.”

South Brunswick (4-2) will host Monroe in the first round of the postseason pods next Friday night. Despite losing its second straight contest, South Brunswick Coach John Viotto was proud of the way his team performed against North Brunswick on both sides of the ball and said his players are excited to get back to work to prepare for Monroe.

“We asked them to be warriors and they did that,” Viotto said.

“We’re proud of them and we’re excited that we get a chance to play these games and have our rivalry game. These are memories that these seniors will have forever. It’s something that at one point didn’t look like they were going to have, so we’re just thankful to get these games in.”