In the end, Hillsborough did what Hillsborough has done all season long.
Highlight reel catches by Thomas Amankwaa, pressure by Will Dixon and Andrew Santa Barbara, a pounding rush from Tyler Michinard, and the arm of Jay Mazuera were just some of the reasons – not all by a long shot – why the Raiders are the South Jersey Group 5 Regional Champions for 2021, as well as a perfect 13-0.
Hillsborough beat Kingsway 28-7 Saturday afternoon at Rutgers’ SHI Stadium in Piscataway in the Big Central Game of the Week driven by Autoland, and in the process became the first Somerset County team in history to win 13 games in a regular season.
The win also was a personal milestone for Kevin Carty, Jr., the Hillsborough skipper, who picked up the 100th win of his career, now 99-63 in 16 seasons overall, 35-17 in the ‘Boro.
It looked for a while like Kingsway would put up a fight.
The Raiders went three-and-out on their first possession of the game, and Kingsway marched downfield to get a first-and-goal at the eight. But after a five yard rush on first down, Hillsborough forced a no gain on the ground, allowed a one yard rush, then set Kingsway back a yard on fourth down, to take the ball over at the three.
And that was the beginning of a glorious afternoon for the Raiders. They would take the next drive 97 yards on 14 plays, eating up 6:14 of game clock, to go ahead 6-0 on a 7-yard touchdown run by Tyler Michinard.
Hillsborough was off an running at that point.
The next two drives only took eight plays total, but each resulted in touchdown passes from Jay Mazuera to his childhood friend Thomas Amankwaa, 42- and 53-yards, and the second one even more amazing than the first,.
The first was an outstretched arm to make the ball reach the pylon.
On the second, Amankwaa made a two-handed grab down the left sideline, stretched the ball away from his defender with his left hand while on the run, and stiff-armed him away with the other, running it into the end zone once he got some distance.
It might have Greg Schiano rethinking that whole using him as a d-back thing, once Amankwaa – a Rutgers commit – signs on the dotted line in about 11 days.
Anmankwaa finished with five catches for 129 yards and two touchdowns, as well as 111 yards on 12 carries. He also had a big tackle in the first half that kept a Kingsway drive from being extended.
The receiving yards put him over Jackson Parham’s school record 2,069 receiving yards, giving Amankwaa 2,194; he now owns four career records, including TD receptions (28), total touchdowns (50), and total points scored (304).
Hillsborough clinched its first-ever perfect season, besting its 1973 record of 8-0-1, which saw them awarded a state championship by the state, sharing with Warren Hills, in the final year before the advent of the playoffs.
The Raiders also are the first Big Central Conference team – as a member of the league – to win 13 games in a season. Piscataway did it in 2018, but the Big Central was still two years away from beginning play as a conference.
Click below to hear postgame reaction from Hillsborough’s 28-7 win over Kingsway in the South 5 championship game with Central Jersey Sportrs Radio’s Max Scheiner: