PISCATAWAY -- Manalapan stamped itself as the team to beat in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group V playoffs by rallying from a 10-point deficit in the second half to defeat Piscataway, 21-10, on Saturday afternoon at Rutgers University's High Point Solutions Stadium.

An 8-yard touchdown run by junior running back Naim Mayfield with 4:25 left in the game moved the Braves to 8-0 and gave them a hard-fought win in a battle between the top two teams in the section. Senior tight end Mike Taylor made a terrific 16-yard catch on third-and-7 to set up Mayfield's go-ahead touchdown run. Senior defensive back Sean Kinniburgh clinched the victory with a 61-yard interception return for a touchdown with 25 seconds left.

Mayfield finished with a game-high 172 yard rushing on 22 carries. Junior linebacker Sal Tardogno made a game-high nine tackles.

Manalapan trailed 3-0 at halftime and fell behind 10-0 early in the third quarter when Chiefs senior running back Elijah Barnwell broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage and took a screen pass in for a 14-yard touchdown. Barnwell had a 56-yard run on the drive and finished with 148 yards rushing on 25 carries.

A key play on Manalapan's first scoring drive came when junior quarterback Luke Corcione drew Piscataway offsides with a hard count on fourth-and-1 from the Braves' 32-yard line. Mayfield ripped off a 43-yard run on the next play, and two plays after that Corcione hit Maksimik out of the backfield on a play-action pass. Maksimik muscled through a defender and lunged across the goal line to get the Braves on the board with 4:51 left in the third quarter.

Piscataway moved to the Manalapan 28-yard line on its next drive, but the Braves' defense came up with an enormous play on fourth-and-1 when junior linebacker Sal Tardogno stripped Barnwell to end the threat.

Manalapan then embarked on a 13-play, 66-yard drive to take the lead for good. The Braves' offensive line went to work to move the ball on the ground on nine of the 13 plays. Taylor's catch moved the ball from the Piscataway 24 to the 8-yard line and set up Mayfield's touchdown run.



Box Score

Manalapan 21, Piscataway 10



First downs









Passing yards











Manalapan (8-0) 0 0 7 14 — 21

Piscataway (5-2) 3 0 7 0 —  10


Scoring summary

P — Michael Staleynj 35-yard field goal

P — Elijah Barnwell 14-yard pass from Dan Haus (Michael Staleynj kick)

M — Chris Maksimik 8-yard pass from Luke Corcione (Cody Weiner kick)

M — Naim Mayfield 8-yard run (Cody Weiner kick)

M — Sean Kinniburgh 61-yard interception return (Cody Weiner kick)


Individual statistics

Rushing — M: Naim Mayfield 22-174, Chris Maksimik 4-14; P: Elijah Barnwell 25-148, Juwon Jackson 5-31, Michael Petite 2-5, Dan Haus 4-(-1).

Passing — M: Luke Corcione 6-17-0 24; P: Dan Haus 14-22-1 143, Joseph Hatcher 1-1-0 1, Michael Staleynj 0-1-1 0.

Receiving — M: Mike Taylor 2-28, Chris Maksimik 2-10, Scott Scherzer 1-(-4), Naim Mayfield 1-(-10); P: Josh Boyd 5-63, Nazir James 5-30, Matt Peterson 3-18, Elijah Barnwell 2-33.

Interceptions — M: Sean Kinniburgh 1-61, Cody Weiner 1-0.


Football editor Bob Badders can be reached at badders@allshoremedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights. 


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