Top-seed North Hunterdon jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4 title game Saturday afternoon in Annandale, but by late in the third quarter found itself tied at 14-14. And it looked like the next possession might win the game, the way things were going.
But the teams exploded for 49 combined points in the fourth quarter. Happily for the Lions, they scored more of them than the Rams did, and claimed a state championship for the second time in six seasons, thanks to a 49-35 win heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio.
Senior quarterback Luke Martini had a career-best game on the big stage: unofficially 389 passing yards and five touchdown passes, both career highs. Two long bombs got the Lions the early lead: a 49-yard TD pass to Derek Vaddis, and an 81-yard TD pass to Danny DeLusant.
Vaddis also had a 20-yard TD reception, and DeLusant had another for 25, before Kente Edwards and Alex Uryniak punched in short runs from two and three yards respectively.
After losing the two-score lead, North Hunterdon got the next two scores to go up 28-14. Randolph got within in score, but North Hunterdon got it right back. And that happened twice more, with Edwards’ and Uryniak’s scores providing the insurance.
It was North Hnterdon’s third state title overall, to go along with the 2017 championship – which came over Phillipsburg at MetLife Stadium after a regular season loss to the Stateliners – and their first in 1976. The Lions are 3-1 now in finals, all-time.
With an 11-1 record – matching the 2017 mark – North Hunterdon now goes on the face North 1 Group 4 champ Northern Highlands in the Group 4 semifinals, to be played at Franklin High School next Saturday and Sunday. Game times and dates should be announced this weekend by the NJSIAA.
Click below to for postgame reaction with Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko: