EASTON (PA.) – For all the pageantry and excitement of the Phillipsburg-Easton football holiday game – and all of it was on full display Thursday – the Stateliners hungered for the biggest part – a win.
After six-straight series losses, several of them heartbreakers, Phillipsburg roared to a 35-14 romp at Lafayette College’s Fisher Stadium in the 115th meeting in the country’s longest interstate rivalry.
“It means everything to us, the team played amazing ball – hopefully it starts a new era here on this field,” said Phillipsburg sophomore receiver Matt Scerbo Jr., who made a tough third quarter catch for a touchdown.
Easton leads the all-time series 67-43-5.
Phillipsburg scored four touchdowns on fourth down, the last one coming on a fake punt with 7:34 left in the game. Caleb Rivera took the snap and broke free – and a couple of tackles – on the way to a 42-yard TD for a 35-7 lead.
The result snapped the longest winning streak by either school in the series.
Phillipsburg ended its season 11-1, bouncing back from a 28-7 home loss to West Orange on November 10 in the North 2 Group 5 final. Easton, however, is the one the Liners really want.
“It’s our biggest game of the year, so it’s absolutely very, very important,” said Pburg coach Frank Duffy, who entered the game 0-5 against Easton. “It’s important for our community, very important to our kids, I couldn’t be prouder of them. What I’m most proud of is that when we made mistakes we rebounded very fast, we didn’t go into a shell. We responded. Our kids are so resilient.”
The key play
Phillipsburg led 14-7 at halftime and received the second-half kickoff. The Liners drove to the Red Rovers’ one, but a personal foul pushed them back to the 16. On a fourth-and-goal from the 16, sophomore QB Jett Genovese slung a pass high into the end zone where 6-foot-3 sophomore Matthew Scerbo Jr. used his size advantage for the ball against a smaller defender and touchdown and a 20-7 Liners lead.
Phillipsburg had a 271-170 advantage in rushing yards and 357-256 in total yards. Easton was penalized seven times for 65 yards; Phillipsburg had three for 36. The Stateliners were 3-for-3 in red zone trips; Easton 2-for-3.
Pburg senior Xavier Moore rushed for 130 yards on 17 carries, including a 73-yard rush in the first quarter, and was named the game’s Offensive Most Valuable Player.
Junior Cameron Bohal led Phillipsburg with 11 tackles and was named the game’s Defensive MVP. Phillipsburg senior Qian Walters was recognized as the game’s top lineman.
Junior Caleb Rivera ran for 72 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries.
Easton senior Aidan Hutchison rushed for 190 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries.
They said it
“I just trust our kids to make plays in tough situations like that. They are so resilient, so resilient,” said Phillipsburg coach Frank Duffy on his team going 5-for-6 on fourth down conversions.