Edison returns from COVID-19 shutdown to win season finale against Hillsborough

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The Edison High School football team celebrates its 50-49 victory over Hillsborough on Nov. 20 in Edison. Edison finishes the season with a record of 4-2.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Edison High School quarterback Matt Yascko takes the snap out of the shotgun formation during the team's game against Hillsborough on Nov. 20 in Edison. Yascko recorded five touchdowns in the team's 50-49 victory over Hillsborough.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Edison High School defensive lineman Adekunle Shittu celebrates making a tackle for a loss against Hillsborough on Nov. 20 in Edison. Edison defeated Hillsborough 50-49.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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The Edison High School football team celebrates its 50-49 victory over Hillsborough on Nov. 20 in Edison. Edison finishes the season with a record of 4-2.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Edison High School quarterback Matt Yascko takes the snap out of the shotgun formation during the team's game against Hillsborough on Nov. 20 in Edison. Yascko recorded five touchdowns in the team's 50-49 victory over Hillsborough.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Edison High School defensive lineman Adekunle Shittu celebrates making a tackle for a loss against Hillsborough on Nov. 20 in Edison. Edison defeated Hillsborough 50-49.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF

EDISON – After being sidelined due to COVID-19 and missing two straight games, the Edison High School football team got its shot to return to the gridiron for one last time this fall on Nov. 20.

Hosting Hillsborough High School in their season finale under the lights, the Eagles put on a show for their hometown crowd in a high scoring thriller that saw Edison end the season on a thunderous note.

Seven touchdowns and a successful two-point conversion try by sophomore quarterback Matt Yascko with 52.9 seconds left to play led Edison to a 50-49 victory over Hillsborough to finish out the season with a mark of 4-2.

“It’s a tribute to the way we practiced when we came back,” Edison Coach Matt Fulham said.

“We focused a lot on conditioning because I knew it was going to be the biggest factor. The kids embraced it. Being in shape allowed us to win a shootout game like this against a seasoned team. Hillsborough is an unbelievable team and for us to compete with them, took a lot of conditioning and a good week of practice.”

Yascko had a career-night for Edison under center, recording five total touchdowns in the contest, including powering in for his only rushing score of the season to make it a 49-48 contest in the final minute.

His five-touchdown performance gives Yascko a total of 11 scores for his sophomore campaign.

“It feels great come out with a hard fought win,” Yascko said. “We were executing on offense and finding ways into the end zone. It’s awesome momentum going into next season.”

The sophomore quarterback threw for a career-high 383 yard and tossed four touchdown passes through the air in the victory against Hillsborough.

Two of Yascko’s four touchdown passes came in the first half, the second one helping Edison take a 21-13 lead into halftime.

Following a 28-yard pass to senior wide out Zakaria Nasser that brought Edison down inside the Hillsborough five-yard line, Yascko found Nasser in the end zone three plays later on a three-yard score to help the Eagles retake the lead.

Yascko and Nasser hooked up again in the third quarter after Hillsborough roared back to take the lead.

The sophomore quarterback floated a perfect 35-yard touchdown pass to Nasser up the right sideline that cut Hillsborough’s lead to 28-27.

Nasser finished with four catches for 88 yards in the contest. Sophomore wide receiver Malcolm Stansbury led Edison with seven catches on the night for 101 yards and one touchdown catch.

“Our offense came out and played really well,” Yascko said. “(Hillsborough) was playing Cover 2 a lot of the game, so we took advantage of throwing the ball in the middle of the field and our receivers were making great catches all night.”

Yascko fired a quick pass to Jaden Peart out of the backfield, and the junior took it all the way up the left sideline for a 49-yard touchdown to give Edison a 35-28 lead going into the fourth quarter.

After Hillsborough tied the game again in the fourth quarter, Edison answered right back with senior running back Qwentin Rose dashing in for his second touchdown of the night from 23 yards out to put the Eagles back in the lead, up 42-35 with 7:28 left to play.

Hillsborough climbed back to tie the game with 2:18 left to play on a touchdown pass from Jay Mazuera to Will Dixon.

On the very next possession, Yascko fumbled the football as the Hillsborough defense forced its fifth turnover of the night with Luke Popadiuk getting the fumble recovery. It led to Sean Levonaitis rolling in for his third rushing touchdown of the night on a 21-yard score with 1:58 left to play.

Just like that, Edison found themselves down a touchdown with under two minutes to go and needed one last rally to have a shot at victory.

Yascko delivered that rally for Edison.

The sophomore quarterback threw a 24-yard completion to senior tight end Dominic Lapelosa that brought Edison down to the Hillsborough 1-yard line, leading to Yascko running in for a one-yard touchdown a play later.

The Eagles now had the decision to either tie it up with the extra point or go for the two-point conversion to take the lead.

As his offense huddled up the sideline before he made a decision, Fulham asked his players what they wanted to do and saw the confidence in their eyes to go for the win.

It was the right decision as Yascko rolled into the end zone to help Edison retake the lead.

“I knew if I didn’t get in that we would’ve lost, so I had to get in,” Yascko said. “It was great to take those steps into the end zone and know that I gave my team the lead.”

The Edison defense was able to hold off Hillsborough on the final drive of the game to cap-off the victory and secure the second winning season in four years for the program.

For a season that was in doubt back in the summer, Fulham is happy that his squad got the chance to play six games this fall and is proud of them for overcoming adversity with the COVID-19 shutdown.

“For us to play six games and be successful in those games is very satisfying,” Fulham said. “I’m happy for our 23 seniors. We wanted to send those guys out the right way. We have a lot of sophomores and juniors playing for us and it was something to set the tone for the offseason and going into next year. We were able to accomplish that. It feels great.”