SAYREVILLE, NJ - Matt Olivo of St. Joseph-Metuchen led Middlesex County to a 34-20 victory over Union with two second-half scores and earned the MVP honor of the 21st annual senior all-star game at Sayreville High School Thursday night.
The evening drew a large crowd as all of the proceeds went to Children's Specialized Hospital and the Lakeview School, a program of the Edison-based New Jersey Institute for Disabilities. The Snapple Bowl has raised more than $447,000 since the tradition started.
Union struck first when Roselle Park's Brian Matthews broke a 49-yard touchdown run just over four minutes into the first quarter. Troy Kettler, out of Cranford High School, tacked on the extra point.
South Plainfield's Roemello Monroe took over for Middlesex before halftime with two touchdown rushes to give his team the lead. Monroe's first score came from one yard out with 2:29 left in the first quarter and the second was a 5-yard run with 9:38 left in the second.
"Hard work pays off," Monroe said about his experience at the Snapple Bowl. "I saw the guys play here when I was younger and I wanted to be here. It's just a blessing."
Union was stymied on their final trip to the redzone in the first half and settled for a Kettler field goal to make the score 12-10 going into the break.
In the second half, a run by Monroe and his South Plainfield teammate Kyle Moroney's pass to East Brunswick's Kyle Kelliher set up a 12-yard run by Olivo, putting Middlesex up by two scores.
Union responded immediately after the extra point when Steven Jones, a Plainfield graduate, returned the kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown, bringing the Union bench and fan section to life instantly.
Down by two points as the end of the third quarter approached, New Providence's Jeff Doran intercepted the ball and set Union up for a go-ahead field goal to give them a 20-19 lead.
But Middlesex controlled the fourth quarter and got a big run out of Olivo, who broke through the defense and up the sideline for a 57-yard score.
"Coach always talks about the fourth quarter," Olivo said. "It was just us coming together. We really wanted this so bad."
With their lead at five and only 3:34 remaining in the game, Middlesex attempted a two-point conversion and Edison's Kyle Boyer-Tucker hauled in a pass from Nick LaVecchia to put them up by seven.
"I knew that my team and my county needed a play so they called my number and I knew I had to step up and rise to the occasion," Boyer-Tucker said. " We knew we were playing for more than ourselves and our county, and we knew we were extending out to the kids at the Lakeview School and kids all around with disabilities."
Dahrae Ford added another score for Middlesex on a 30-yard touchdown run with just over a minute left to play to seal Middlesex's third straight victory.