The South Brunswick High School football team is making a habit of thriving when their backs are against the wall.
Following two straight games where a first half lead evaporated in the second half, for the first time this season SBHS was trailing at halftime.
However, after Dion Hooper, TJ Taylor and TJ Perkowski all scored touchowns, South Brunswick rallied for a 37-14 win at Edison on Friday night to bring their record to 4-0.
"South Brunswick is a program with high expectations," first-year Coach Joe Goerge said of his undefeated team. "I never felt like if we didn't win 10 games it would be a bad year, but a lot is expected of us. I embrace that."
In the first three games, South Brunswick had started with great first halves, which it maintained throughout in the season opener against East Brunswick. But the last two of those games would turn into very competitive contests after furious second half rallies by the opposition. When South Brunswick was the team facing a defecit at halftime, the Vikings were the ones who needed to respond. Down 14-13 to begin the second half, Dylan Olsson gave South Brunswick a lead it would never surrender with a 19-yard field goal early in the third quarter. Before the third quarter ended, Olsson added two more points. Those were extra points following touchdowns by Hooper and Taylor.
"I'd like to say we made some great adjustments at halftime to turn the game around, but that didn't happen," Goerge said. "There are times during a year when you run into adversity. That could come in every game. That's what we talked about at halftime. You'll be in games where you may be tied or where you have to come from behind. If we stay true to what we do, we can come back."
Taylor's touchdown came on a 70-yard interception return and finished the scoring in a productive quarter that gave South Brunswick a 30-14 advantage.
Hooper scored on 46-yard pass from Perkowski, which was just one of two passes South Brunswick completed all night. South Brunswick relied on the running game all night, with 276 yards rushing as team. Perkowski was the star with 12 carries for 117 yards, including a 63-yard score early in the first quarter.
Hooper carried the ball six times for 73 yards. In addition to his receiving touchdown, Hooper also had two touchdowns on the ground. He gave SBHS a 13-7 lead with a 34-yard scoring run in the first quarter. Hooper also had a 2-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
South Brunswick had 347 total yards, but Edison nearly matched the Vikings with 325 yards. Edison also controlled the ball for more time than South Brunswick. The difference in the game was turnovers.
"The turnovers were a big part of the game," Goerge said. "It almost gets to the point where you are afraid to make a turnover, so that causes you to make it. And on the defense, you get the momentum and start to play with more intensity. You have both things going in your favor. At any level, it's hard to overcome that."
Alex Berkuta, Austin Morse and Matthew Golden all had fumble recoveries for the Vikings. And in addition to the interception returned for a touchdown by Taylor, Olsson also picked off a pass.
"It wasn't just getting turnovers, we were converting them into points," Goerge said. "We returned the one interception for a touchdown. We recovered one fumble and scored on the next play. After another turnover, we scored two plays later."
SBHS will be looking to improve to 5-0 as it plays Piscataway on Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. South Brunswick will be back home to face JP Stevens under the lights on Oct. 12.
"This is a big school with a desire to play at a high level," Goerge noted of South Brunswick. "I'm blessed to be part of that."
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