Lions roar as North Hunterdon scores 25 unanswered to come from behind, beat Morris Knolls, and secure bid in North 2, Group 4 final

North Hunterdon quarterback Luke Martini (5) gets a hug from a teammate after a 25-14 win over Morris Knolls in the North 2, Group 4 semifinals in Annandale on November 4, 2022. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

After trading three-and-outs to start the game, by the end of the first quarter things weren’t looking good for North Hunterdon.

The top-seeded Lions were down 14-0 after Morris Knolls opened the scoring with a 17-play drive, then scored quickly again after recovering an onside kick that took North by surprise.

Penalties and a fumble didn’t help the cause either, and things were in danger of getting late early in Annandale.

That is until head coach Kevin Kley called “The Timeout.” It followed a fumble by Alex Uryniak, then a big first down gain of 35 yards by Dom DellaMonache. Kley decided it was time to click Reboot.

And reboot, they did.

DellaMonache had 90 yards on 13 carries at that point, but only had 42 the rest of the way as the Lions’ defense hunkered down, kept the Golden Eagles off the scorebaord, and let Luke Martini and Derek Vaddis do their thing.

The pair hooked up for touchdowns of 46 yards and 63 yards in the second quarter – with 5:59 and 2:41 to go – but the Lions still trailed 14-12 going into the locker room, after having the extra point blocked on the first TD, and the two-point conversion fail on the second.

In the third quarter, after several momentum swings but no other scores, quarterback Luke Martini ran one in from 15 yards with 8:17 left to put North up 18-12, again missing on the two-point try. Then, with under two minutes to go, the icing on the cake: Kente Edwards – who had missed two games and was limited in two others after a suffering a lower body injury against Colonia – capped the game with a three-yard touchdown run.

The win puts North Hunterdon (9-1) in the North 2, Group 4 Championship game at home next week against second-seed Randolph, which beat third-seed Wayne Valley 31-28 Friday night. The game will be in Annandale Friday night at 7:00.

It’s North’s first trip to the finals since they won the North 2, Group 4 title in 2017, beating Phillipsburg 21-20 at MetLife Stadium after losing to the Stateliners in the regular season. That team finished 11-1, and this one will as well, if they win the title next week.

Click below to for postgame reaction with Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko:

QB Luke Martini and WR Derek Vaddis
Head Coach Kevin Kley

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