Marlboro rallies for dramatic victory over Washington Township for first playoff win since 1994
Senior wide receiver Ryan Mendes caught a 52-yard touchdown pass from senior wide receiver Alex Frank on a trick play with 6:27 left in the game and junior linebacker Anthony Tropeano came down with Marlboro's fifth interception of the game in the final minute as the Mustangs rallied for an incredible 21-17 victory over the Washington Township in the first round of the NJSIAA South Jersey Group 5 playoffs.
It is Marlboro's first playoff win since 1994 when they won the Central Jersey Group 4 state sectional championship, the only state title in program history. The Mustangs were playing in their first state playoff game since 1999.
Standout junior running back Matt Cassidy gave Marlboro a 7-0 lead with a 17-yard touchdown run that capped a game-opening 80-drive, but Cassidy was injured later in the quarter and did not return. Marlboro's defense stepped up to play an incredible game, intercepting five passes with Nick Scaff and Jake Houston grabbing two INTs each.
Washington Township cut the lead to 7-3 on a 27-yard field goal by Max DiRaddo and then went ahead 10-7 when quarterback Jared Dziergowski ripped off a 99-yard touchdown run after a fantastic punt by Luke Rubin had pinned the Minutemen deep. After an INT by the Washington Township defense gave it the ball right back, Dziergowski connected with Jason DiBlasio for a 10-yard touchdown pass and a 17-7 halftime lead.
Marlboro clawed back with its defense leading the way and putting the offensive in advantageous positions. An INT by Houston led to Christian LaFonte scoring on a 1-yard run to cut the deficit to 17-14 with 8:27 left in the game. Marlboro then forced a three-and-out to get the ball right back.
On the first play of the ensuing series, quarterback Brayden Klein flipped a screen pass to Frank, but the junior wideout pulled up and connected with a wide-open Mendes for the go-ahead score.
Interceptions by Scaff and Houston and the final pick by Tropeano closed out an inspiring performance and put the Mustangs into the semifinals. They will travel to top-seeded Toms River North (10-0) next Friday night.