The Panthers kept things rolling Friday evening as they advanced in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group II playoffs defeating Raritan 41-12.
The win was a big milestone for Point Boro, who will return to the State Semi-Finals for the first time since 2008. After wrapping up an undefeated regular season, the Panthers knew that the spotlight would be on them.
It took some time for the Panthers to get going as Raritan jumped out to an early 6-0 lead in the 2nd Quarter. However, Point Boro would tie the game later in the quarter as James Fara continued to be a force in the ground game. After a 33 yard catch and run by Brandon Cipriano, Fara took off for 40 yards to tie the game at 6-6.
The Panthers would take the lead for good in the second quarter as Brandon Cipriano once again showed his speed racing 90 yards into the end zone making the score 13-7. This was Cipriano’s longest TD run of his career.
“These are the type of the plays that we work on in the offseason,” Cipriano said. “I know that I can trust the guys blocking for me. When I got the ball I just kept looking up field. Once I got some momentum, it was just a matter of not getting caught from behind,” Cipriano added.
With just under four minutes remaining in the half, James Fara took off for an 81 yard TD run. At this Point, the Panthers lead 20-6.
“That 81-yard run was certainly the hardest run that I’ve had all year,” Fara explained. “The cold weather certainly made it difficult and the fact that I had to reverse fields. However, the offensive line was great and they were able to make the blocks,” Fara said.
Point Boro would add to that lead right before the half as they were able to regain possession and make it a 27-6 game going into the locker room.
Point Boro’s defense was particularly strong in the second quarter as John Callander came away with an interception and Trent Livosi recovered a fumble for the Panthers. These plays were essential in giving Point Boro the ability to put up 27 points in the quarter.
“That interception completely gave momentum,” Callander said. “After that play, I felt like our entire team was completely focused,” Callander added.
James Fara also commented on the turnovers, saying, “They helped our offense score more points.”They were definitely key to us coming away with the win”.
Trent Livosi also explained how his fumble recovery was a game-changing effort.
“I was able to stay low on the running back and drive through the hips. I was able to strip the ball out and then I was fortunate enough to recover the ball. It really helped our team because we were able to go back on offense and score more points,” Livosi explained.
In the third quarter, James Fara came away with another TD run from 10 yards out. Tanner Gordon sealed the Panther scoring as he ran the ball in from 10 yards out as well. At 41-6, Raritan was able to find the end zone one last time. However, the Point Boro offense was just too much to overcome as they won 41-12.
The Panthers will now host Manasquan next Friday night with a trip to the State final on the line.
” It feels great, we worked so hard to get to this point and to finally break the losing streak of losing in the first round means a lot,” Fara explained on getting his team past the first round.
However, Fara knows that this next game against Manasquan will require perfect execution from his team.
“They [ Manasquan] are traditionally a good football team. We know that it is going to be a battle and we know that it will be a much harder game than we have played so far. However, there is no doubt in my mind that if we play our game that we can handle them,” Fara explained.