After two plays, it looked like the ninth edition of the Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone Bowl might have a score in the 30s or 40s. Jay Mazuera of Hillsborough hit Owen Bill of Hunterdon Central for a 65-yard touchdown strike to put the Devil Dogs up 6-0, plus the PAT by South Hunterdon’s Trevor McLoughlan, and it looked like we might be off to the races.
Things settled down a bit though, with a good deal of the first half played between the 30-yard lines, and it wasn’t until two minutes left in the first half before the fans on hand would see another score. That came from Franklin’s Nasan Colson, who ran in a ten-yard score on his eighth carry of the game to make it 14-0 with the extra point.
And it turned out that was all the Devil Dogs needed to beat the Leathernecks, in a game played every year in honor of Raritan’s favorite son, John Basilone. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic efforts at the Battle of Guadalcanal, only to be killed in action after re-upping and joining the fight in the battle of Iwo Jima, at the age of 28.
Colson was named the Devil Dogs’ Offensive MVP, while Jacob Ventura of Pingry was named Defensive MVP and Bill was named the overall Basilone Bowl MVP.
In the second half, the Leathernecks cut it to a touchdown on a two-yard run by Bound Brook’s Patrick LePoidevin that capped an 80-yard drive, but that was as close as they would get. With 8:19 left in the fourth – a period that started with only ten minutes on the clock on humid night – Hillsborough’s Tyler Michinard took a handoff from Mazuera and ran ten yards for the score, and the final one of the night, making it 21-7.
In the losing cause, the Leathernecks were led by Offensive MVP Alex Benitez and Defensive MVP Andre Soumeillant, both from Montgomery.
Listen below to postgame reaction from the 2022 Basilone Bowl champion Devil Dogs: