In a game filled with twists and turns, the last one came courtesy of the grass on the South Brunswick High School field.
Down 35-32 in the final minute, Monroe passed up a field goal and elected to go for the win from the 5-yard line. Fortunately for South Brunswick, a quick turn and slip brought the Monroe runner to his knee and the Vikings fans to their feet.
"We got a break," noted South Brunswick's Amir Johnson, who helped set up two touchdowns with a pair of interceptions. "It was nerve-wracking at the end. Anything could have happened.
"When that knee went down, all the pressure that was on our shoulders just lifted. We had players on the sidelines that were crying. This game can be emotional."
For the majority of the first half, the only emotion this game seemed destined for was being a bit of a laugher. South Brunswick scored twice in each of the first two quarters and had a 28-3 lead at one point.
Monroe scored a field goal on its opening drive, but Johnson then set up a pair of South Brunswick touchdowns with his interceptions.
"Just doing my job on defense," Johnson said.
Johnson's first interception gave South Brunswick the ball at the Monroe 35. This set up a 23-yard touchdown by TJ Perkowski. The South Brunswick quarterback took a step back, as if to pass, then sprinted past a surprised defense.
Johnson's second interception set up a 5-yard pass from Perkowski to TJ Taylor.
Perkowski and Taylor also combined for the next score, connecting on a 94-yard touchdown down the right sideline. The pass connected with Taylor in full stride.
Perkowski added a 9-yard run to put South Brunswick up 28-3 with 8:08 to play in the first half.
On its last drive of the first half and the first of the second half, however, Monroe scored touchdowns. Monroe added a touchdown and 2-point conversion with 7:47 to play to cut the deficit to 28-25.
Faced with a Monroe offense that was suddenly very productive, Perkowski responded by connecting with Dontae Strickland on a 65-yard touchdown.
"I had a couple bad plays, but I made up for it with the two to TJ and the one to Dontae," Perkowski said.
This pushed the South Brunswick lead to 35-25 with 6:11 to play
Monroe, however, responded with a score on its next possession.
Monroe followed by recovering an onsides kick. It then moved the ball down to the 5-yard line, electing to go for the win over a field goal and overtime.
"He (Monroe Coach Chris Beagan) thought he had us back on our heels," South Brunswick Coach Joe Goerge noted. "In his situation, I probably would have also gone for it. There are definitely things to work on, but it ends up being a great win for us. The guys made a stand on the goal line when it could have gone either way."
Just that one last slip.
"The footing was perfect," Perkowski noted, pointing to the luck of the last play. "We worked too hard to lose on one last play. When that knee went down, I was so happy."
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