UNION - Staring at an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter in Saturday's NJSIAA Central Jersey Group I final, Asbury Park spent the final 11 minutes showing what the Blue Bishops are all about.

"We wanted to remind everybody that this city is a state championship city,'' said senior running back Namir Argilagos. "We deal with adversity, and we fight until there are all zeroes on the clock."

Argilagos led a fourth-quarter surge with two touchdowns to help the Blue Bishops roar back for a 26-17 win over Class B Central rival Keyport (10-2) at Kean University's Alumni Stadium for their first state title since 2011 and the seventh in their proud history.

"I'm an Asbury Park guy, homegrown, and just revitalizing the program is just
great,'' head coach Tim Fosque said. "The team has been really persistent all season long in just believing in one other, and we showed that tonight."

Argilagos capped his career with 175 yards rushing and three touchdowns as the Blue Bishops (8-4) rolled up 271 yards on the ground to avenge a regular-season loss to the Red Raiders.

Asbury Park led 6-3 at the half thanks to a 45-yard touchdown run by Argilagos, but Keyport surged ahead with a pair of scores. Quarterback Chris Hogrefe put them in front by sneaking in from two yards on fourth down to cap a 12-play, 57-yard drive and give Keyport a 10-6 advantage with 4:58 left in the third quarter.

The Keyport defense then came up with consecutive stops on an interception by safety Rayquan Brown and then an incompletion on fourth down. Three plays after getting the ball back, Cody Young took an end around, fumbled the ball, recovered it in stride and took off for a 75-yard touchdown to stretch the lead to 17-6 with 11:06 left in the game.

"I just told my team to stay focused and keep fighting because the game was not
over,'' said senior wide receiver Josmere Taylor.

A crucial swing play then happened on the ensuing kickoff. Brown appeared to have recovered an onside kick by snaring it in the air, but by rule the other team has to have a chance to field it if it hasn't touched the ground. Keyport was flagged for interference, giving Asbury Park the ball at Keyport's 41-yard line.

Three plays later, Taylor made a sensational grab over a defender for a 31-yard touchdown pass from Ja'king Agostini to jumpstart Asbury Park's comeback. Argilagos then ran in the two-point conversion to cut the lead to 17-14 with 9:58 left in the game.

"I told my coach all game that he couldn't stick me,'' Taylor said. "I told him just give me a
shot to make a play."

The defense took that momentum and came up with a stop on Keyport's penalty-marred following possession. The Blue Bishops then drove 79 yards in only five plays to take the lead.

Senior Paul Reed ripped off a 23-yard run to get the drive started, and two plays later Agostini lofted a deep shot down the sideline that Javon Higgs snatched over a defender for a 30-yard gain. Argilagos then capped the drive with a 12-yard touchdown to give the Blue Bishops a 20-17 lead with 4:21 left in the game before a missed extra point.

"We thought the big plays would be the difference in this game, so if we could cut loose and make those plays, we could come out on the positive side,'' Fosque said.

On Keyport's ensuing possession, the Asbury Park defense made a championship stand. They forced a pair of incompletions to force a turnover on downs, and then Argilagos put the game away. The Blue Bishops did a solid job containing Keyport standout sophomore fullback Devin Wollner, who had 136 yards, but it came on 36 carries.

"I think the defensive line really controlled the line of scrimmage, which we didn't do a good job at the first time we played them,'' Fosque said.

After Asbury Park picked up a crucial first down when Keyport jumped offsides, Argilagos dropped the hammer with a 34-yard touchdown run that made it 26-17 with 1:23 left in the game and Keyport out of timeouts.

"It was incredible,'' Argilagos said. "Words can't explain how I felt."

It put a stamp on Asbury Park's resurgence under Fosque, an Asbury Park graduate and former player for the Blue Bishops who is in his second season at the helm.

The championship also was a storybook ending for Argilagos, an outstanding student who attends High Technology High School in Middletown but plays for the Blue Bishops because they are in his home district. He has been accepted to Duke and Notre Dame as a student.

"This is something I'll never forget,'' he said.

He and the rest of the Blue Bishops will now celebrate their return to the top after a stretch in which they won four state titles from 2007-11 before coming up short the last five years.

"We got a whole city behind us,'' Taylor said. "This is not for us, this is for them. We told them from Day One, we're going to bring it back to Asbury."

Box score

Asbury Park 26, Keyport 17

.                              A             K

First downs           18            11

Rushes-yards     30-271      45-240

Passing                3-9-1        2-7-1

Passing yards       101           54

Fumbles-lost         1-1            0-0

Penalties              6-42           6-45

Asbury Park (8-4)    0   6   0   20 - 26

Keyport (10-2)         0    3   7   7   - 17

Scoring summary

A: Argilagos 45-yard run (run failed).

K: Smith 23-yard field goal.

K: Hogrefe 2-yard run (Smith kick).

K: Young 75-yard run (Smith kick).

A: Taylor 31-yard pass from Agostini (Argilagos run).

A: Argilagos 12-yard run (kick failed).

A: Argilagos 34-yard run (run failed).

Individual statistics

Rushing - A: Argilagos 17-175, Reed 5-68, Abrams 1-9, Agostini 5-2, Simmons 3-17. K: Robinson 6-17, Wollner 36-136, Hogrefe 1-2, Young 2-85.

Passing - A: Agostini 3-9-1 101. K: Hogrefe 2-7-1 54.

Receiving - A: Taylor 2-71, Higgs 1-30. K: Young 1-39, Frick 1-15.

Interceptions - A: Abrams 1-0. K: Brown 1-0.

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