Big Second Half Sends Manalapan to a Fourth Straight State Final Appearance
Manalapan is going to see if the fourth time is the charm as the Braves advanced to their fourth straight sectional final with a 28-6 win over second-seeded Hillsborough on Friday night to reach the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group V championship game in search of their elusive first state title.
Senior quarterback Dan Anerella threw two touchdown passes, senior tailback Imamu Mayfield added a 16-yard touchdown run, and senior fullback Ben Sieczkowski had a 32-yard scoring run as the Braves (10-1) beat the Raiders (9-2) by dominating the second half after the two teams were scoreless at the break.
Senior kicker Mike Caggiano hit four extra points to become the state’s all-time leader in career points by a kicker with 234. The Braves became the first Shore team since Middletown South from 2001-06 to reach four straight state finals. They will play top-seeded South Brunswick (10-0) at either Rutgers, Kean University or MetLife Stadium on the weekend of Dec. 5-7 to try to make school history.
Manalapan’s defense forced five turnovers in the win, including interceptions by defensive backs Dan Debner, Tyson Plummer and Anthony Bassani. Debner also caught a 22-yard touchdown pass, and senior tight end Kyle Mullen added a 4-yard touchdown catch.
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