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North Brunswick rolls behind Garbolino and defense to season opening victory over rival South Brunswick

The North Brunswick Township High School football team celebrates with the Mike Elko Memorial Trophy after its 19-0 victory over rival South Brunswick on Sept. 1 in North Brunswick.

The North Brunswick Township High School football team didn’t let the Mike Elko Memorial Trophy leave its possession on Sept. 1 by defeating rival South Brunswick High School for the fourth year in a row.

In front of their hometown crowd at Steve Libro Field, the Raiders rolled behind their tenacious defense and the legs of senior quarterback Frankie Garbolino to a 19-0 season opening victory over South Brunswick.

“We preach all offseason ‘Beat South Brunswick,’” Garbolino said after North Brunswick’s season opening victory. “It’s our motto from Day 1. We weren’t going to look past them. We wanted to go 1-0 and get this one. It feels awesome.”

Garbolino bounced back from a first quarter interception to South Brunswick’s Jacob Brokaw in the red zone to finish the contest with 125 passing yards and a touchdown, but it was his legs that made the difference in helping North Brunswick start the 2022 season 1-0.

The senior quarterback powered the Raiders on a nine-play 54-yard touchdown drive that ended with Garbolino rolling in for a two-yard score to put North Brunswick up 6-0 with 1:13 to go in the half.

Garbolino carried the ball five times on the drive, with two of those carries leading the Raiders to a first down. The senior quarterback finished with a career high 104 rushing yards in the contest on 14 carries.”

“I was running the ball well today, so we kept coming back to me,” Garbolino said. “All the credit goes to my offensive line. They do the dirty work to help me look good. They made it all open up for me.”

North Brunswick took a 6-0 lead in the halftime and extended its lead on Garbolino’s first touchdown pass of the season to 13-0 with 2:29 to play in the third quarter.

Senior wide receiver Zahmir Dawud was the recipient of Garbolino’s touchdown pass, taking the quick swing pass from his senior quarterback 19 yards through the South Brunswick defense for his first touchdown of the season.

“I saw a couple defenders and was able to juke them. I then saw yellow (the end zone) and knew I needed to score, and I did,” Dawud said of his 19-yard touchdown catch.

North Brunswick put the game away on its next offensive possession with a 13-play 78-yard touchdown drive that ate up just under six minutes of clock.

Garbolino completed three first down passes on the drive, which included a 25-yard screen pass to running back Justin Batts, a 16-yard completion to his brother, Jack Garbolino, and a 19-yard pass to Dawud that drove North Brunswick down to the South Brunswick 13-yard line.

Dawud finished off the game-clinching drive with a four-yard touchdown run to help North Brunswick convert on a fourth and short and go up three scores with 7:01 left to play.

It’s the first time in his high school career that Dawud had both a rushing and receiving touchdown in a varsity game.

“It’s only the start,” Dawud added after his career-night.

On defense, North Brunswick held South Brunswick to only 68 total yards of offense. The Vikings forced South Brunswick to turn the ball over on downs twice and also forced a fumble.

Batts had the fumble recovery for the Raiders on a bobbled snap by South Brunswick quarterback Vincent Jairdullo that allowed North Brunswick to take over with 4:42 left to play and run out the clock.

It’s the second time in its four-game winning streak over South Brunswick that North Brunswick has shut out its rival.

“It’s impressive (shutting out South Brunswick),” said North Brunswick coach Mike Cipot. “It goes to all the preparation we did all summer. Our defensive staff did a great job getting these guys ready for anything. Our defense is a smart group of guys and that’s a big difference.”

Having preached an emphasis on “finishing” drives to win games on both sides of the ball during training camp to his squad, Cipot said he was happy with how his Raiders finished their season opener against South Brunswick and hopes it will continue throughout the season.

“We finished the job (tonight),” Cipot said. “We beat South Brunswick to start the year and get off on a good foot. We need to fix the mistakes we have and get ready for Edison.”

North Brunswick (1-0) will next gear up for a huge divisional showdown with Edison on Sept. 9 at Edison High School. South Brunswick (0-1) will look to win its first game of the 2022 season when they host Old Bridge on Sept. 9.

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