SECAUCUS, NJ –During the break between the third and fourth quarters of New Providence football games, the players and coaching staff all hold up four fingers to signify their mantra of living for the final 12 minutes.
In Friday’s North 2, Group 1 quarterfinal game against Secaucus, the Pioneers scored 20 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to beat the Patriots 39-20 and advance to the state semifinals.
“I don’t think anything in the second half went wrong for us,” senior Bryan Sherman said. “We just played as best as we can. I was proud of everyone on this team.”
The Pioneers rally started with their opening drive of the third quarter. Junior quarterback Jack Harvey hit Jeff Doran with a 55-yard touchdown pass to tie the game.
Despite Harvey leaving the game on their next series with an undisclosed injury, Sherman kept the pace and the pressure. On his first pass play, the senior captain connected with Doran for a 20-yard touchdown that put the Pioneers on top 19-13.
After the defense allowed a 15-yard run to Sean Roesing, Sherman and Doran connected again, this time from 29-yards out to put the Pioneers ahead for good.
“Bryan’s a winner,” New Providence head coach Joe Carollo said. “That’s what Bryan Sherman is, the kid’s a winner. Anything we’ve ever asked him to do, he’s done. Some thing’s have not been the greatest things, but he’s done it and stepped up. That’s what winners do…We saw it tonight.”
Junior Ibn Nash, who just returned to the team last week following a lengthy injury, added a rushing TD in the fourth, as the Pioneers scored on their final four drives.
He finished with two scores and a team-high 111 yards on the ground.
New Providence’s defense came up big in the second half as well to hold the lead. Sherman contributed a fourth quarter interception, while Brian Urness added a Pick-Six to seal the game in the final two minutes.
“Our kids just showed guts,” New Providence head coach Joe Carollo said. “We knew they had it. They knew it was inside. But man, they came out and were not going to be denied. Our hats go off to them. They played their butts off.”
The victory propels New Providence into the state semifinal next week at Hoboken. This is the second consecutive year the Pioneers have made the second round, losing at Roselle Park last year.
Carollo said with the way this team played tonight, there’s no question the Pioneers can put up a fight against the section’s top seed.
“We knew they were willing to fight. It comes down to if your willing to believe,” the second year head coach said. “When you’ve lost the way we’ve lost, its hard to believe. Once we busted through, you see this is what we’re capable of.”