The South Brunswick High School football team will be hoping for a repeat performance from earlier this year as the Vikings battle Old Bridge in the semi-finals of the Group IV NJSIAA state football playoffs tonight.
The contest is a rematch from September between the two 8-2 squads, as the Vikings triumphed in a nail biter 27-21 on Sept. 21 to improve to 3-0. In that game, South Brunswick built an early 21-0 advantage in the first half, before Old Bridge cut the deficit to 27-21 with 6:40 to play. The Vikings defense stayed tough and hung on for the hard fought win.
"We have to continue to keep pushing. We kind of let up in the second half (in the first meeting)," said Vikings quarterback T.J. Perkowski. "We have to able to finish and get to the state championship game. We were in the same position last year and we don't want that same feeling of losing in the semi-finals. We have to just push through and get the win."
In the first game, Perkowski led the way for South Brunswick completing 10 of 15 passes for 179 yards and a touchdown pass, while gaining 51 rushing yards on 9 carries. T.J. Taylor caught five passes for 137 yards receiving and added 25 yards on a run. Dahrae Ford scored all four Vikings touchdowns, with three on the ground and one on a 12-yard pass from Perkowski.
The Vikings are coming off two straight wins after losing to Sayreville 28-14 on Oct. 26. Following that loss, the Vikes had an extended layoff following Superstorm Sandy, which caused the squad to lose valuable practice time. However, the Vikings answered the challenge with a resounding victory over Hillsborough 35-21 in the first round of the playoffs. SBHS then defeated North Brunswick in the annual Thanksgiving game 34-7.
"It was definitely tough after we had the loss to Sayreville and then had a week with no football related activity at all," Perkowski said. "But we rallied around each other and we didn't let the loss affect us. We didn't use it as an excuse to not work as hard as we can. So that lost week hasn't hurt us."
A victory would send SBHS to the state finals against the winner of the Manalapan-Hunterdon Central game. The finals are to be played at High Point Solutions Stadium in Piscataway, the home field of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. For Perkowski, who signed a letter of intent to play collegiate baseball for Rutgers, getting to play in the finals at his future college would be huge. SBHS wide receiver T.J. Taylor has also committed to the Scarlet Knights for football.
"It would mean everything to me to play there," Perkowski said. "The only reason I played football this year was to get another shot at a state championship. To be able to get to that game at Rutgers and to be able to play on that field would be an amazing feeling."
The action will kickoff tonight at 7 p.m. at South Brunswick High School, 750 Ridge Road in Monmouth Junction.
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