Sabio’s game-winning field goal in overtime helps Edison stun Manalapan in state football tournament

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The Edison High School football team hoist up placekicker Selbin Sabio after kicking a game-winning 25-yard field goal attempt in overtime to help Edison defeat Manalapan 23-20 on Nov. 5 in Manalapan.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Edison High School quarterback Matt Yascko completes a pass down the field to wide receiver Jaden Peart against Manalapan during the first round of the NJSIAA South Jersey, Group V Tournament on Nov. 5 in Manalapan. Yascko threw two touchdown passes in the contest. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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The Edison High School football team hoist up placekicker Selbin Sabio after kicking a game-winning 25-yard field goal attempt in overtime to help Edison defeat Manalapan 23-20 on Nov. 5 in Manalapan.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Edison High School quarterback Matt Yascko completes a pass down the field to wide receiver Jaden Peart against Manalapan during the first round of the NJSIAA South Jersey, Group V Tournament on Nov. 5 in Manalapan. Yascko threw two touchdown passes in the contest. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF

Upset. Drama. Excitement. The clash between No. 7 Edison and No. 2 Manalapan in the first round of the NJSIAA South Jersey, Group V football tournament had all that and more on Nov. 5 at Manalapan High School.

The visiting Edison High School Eagles walked away in overtime with a 23-20 upset victory over the Braves to advance to the sectional semifinals off the foot of junior placekicker Selbin Sabio.

After Manalapan came up empty on the first possession of overtime, Edison needed a field goal or touchdown with its possession to win the game.

Sabio was “ready” if called upon during Edison’s overtime possession and got that opportunity on fourth down with a 25-yard field goal attempt to send the Eagles to the semifinals.

The moment and all the pressure didn’t phase Sabio, who booted the 25-yard attempt right through the uprights to give Edison its first state playoff victory since 2018.

“It feels great,” Sabio said after kicking the game-winning field goal. “This is what we worked for. I was ready for any opportunity I got. I got my opportunity, and I made it. All the hard work in practice is finally paying off.”

Things didn’t look pretty for the Eagles early on in the contest, trailing Manalapan 13-0 with 2:41 to play in the first half.

That all changed on the pursuing kickoff as senior Jaden Peart made a “game-changing” play with a 99-yard kick return for a touchdown to get Edison on the board and cut the Manalapan lead to 13-6.

Peart then made a huge play on defense during the next possession, picking off Manalapan quarterback Mike Heckel to get Edison the ball back with one minute to go in the half at its own 30-yard line.

Edison turned Peart’s interception into points as junior quarterback Matt Yascko led the Eagles on a nine-play 70-yard touchdown drive in less than a minute, hooking up with wide receiver Malcolm Stansbury on a 22-yard touchdown pass with 3.4 seconds left to tie the game at 13-13 going into halftime.

“That 99-yard kick return really sparked us,” said Edison Coach Matt Fulham. “We came out a little nervous and didn’t play that great. Manalapan took it to us, but we were able to respond.”

Yascko led Edison on a 10-play 54-yard touchdown drive to begin the second half to give the Eagles their first lead of the night.

The junior quarterback once again looked Stansbury’s way on fourth down and three from the Manalapan 20-yard line.

Yascko zipped a pass to Stansbury on a quick out route and the junior receiver took it the rest of the way for six to give Edison a 20-13 lead.

“It’s Malcolm Stansbury one-on-one. I like my odds with that 10 times out of 10,” Yascko said of his 20-yard touchdown pass. “I put it out there for him and he made a great play by making his guy miss and took it into the end zone.”

Yascko’s two touchdown passes on the night give him 12 for the season. Stansbury has caught seven of those 12 touchdown passes by Yascko.

Manalapan rallied back in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 20-20 with 7:09 left to play on a 25-yard touchdown run by Thomas Clark-Glasco.

Edison would turn the ball over on the very next possession as a fumble recovery by the Braves set up Manalapan in great field position at the Edison 40-yard line.

However, the Eagles’ defense picked up their offense by forcing a three and out to keep
Manalapan away from retaking the lead.

Manalapan did have another chance to grab the lead in regulation with placekicker Michael Calton lining up for a 38-yard field goal attempt with 56.6 seconds left to play.

Lucky enough for the Eagles, Calton’s kick sailed wide right and the game remained tied. Edison would go on to run out the rest of the clock in regulation to signal overtime.

The Eagles won the coin toss heading into halftime and elected to go on defense to begin the overtime period.

Once again, the Edison defense came up with a huge play. A sack of Heckel on third down forced Manalapan to try for another field goal and again Calton’s kick missed the mark, giving Edison the opportunity to win the game with a score on its offensive possession.

Knowing that Sabio was good from 45 yards in practice, there was no hesitation by Fulham to send his junior kicker out after the Edison drive stalled inside the Manalapan 10-yard line.

Ready for his opportunity to shine and help his team advance to the semifinals, Sabio jogged confidently out onto the field and knocked in the game-winning field goal to propel the Eagles to a huge upset victory over Manalapan.

Smiling ear to ear and out of breath after the victory, the junior said without question that making that game-winning field goal in overtime was the greatest moment of his life so far.

“All that hard work in practice is finally paying off,” Sabio said. “We keep persevering. Now, we’re in round two of the playoffs and have to keep moving.”

Edison (7-3) will play Toms River North in the semifinals on Nov. 12.