Click here for full photo gallery by John Haddad.
NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ — Junior tailback Charlie Barth scored two of his three touchdowns in the second half, when New Providence scored three unanswered touchdowns to pull away for a 35-14 victory over Gov. Livingston Wednesday in the traditional Thanksgiving day matchup between the rivals.
It was the second year in a row that New Providence (8-1) took the Mayor's Cup trophy, after edging the Highlanders, 14-7, in last year's Thanksgiving morning contest in Berkeley Heights.
The Pioneers also became one of the few teams anywhere in New Jersey to complete nine football games in this abbreviated season that was contested without championship state playoffs for the first time since 1973.
But it was actually Gov. Livingston (4-2) that appeared to have the momentum heading into the half. The Highlanders tied the game, 14-14, when Jayson Schmidt capped an eight-play, 67-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown run with 19 seconds left in the second quarter and Liam Quigley kicked the extra point. Junior quarterback Connor Tracy had a couple of long completions covering 29 yards and 20 yards to maneuver the Highlanders into the red zone.
But New Providence defied the laws of momentum by coming out and shutting their neighbors out in the second half, after one of its players was injured on the second-half kickoff and required a stretcher to be taken off the field.
The Pioneers took a 21-14 lead on Barth's 2-yard TD run off left tackle and Brandon Mora's extra point late in the third quarter. That score was set up by Sean Michaels' 30-yard run down the left sideline to the 2 two plays prior.
The Pioneers extended that lead when Barth broke a 51-yard scoring run around the left side and down the sidelines early in the fourth quarter. Dean Licari threw his second TD pass of the game, a 5-yard strike to Tim Walsh, later in the fourth quarter to cap the scoring.
In the first half, New Providence recovered an onside kickoff to start the game, then marched to the GL 14-yard line in eight plays before Licari completed a pass that the New Providence receiver fumbled out of the end zone for a touchback and a turnover to the Highlanders.
Gov. Livingston chewed up 80 yards in 13 plays, scoring on Victor Chait's 20-yard TD run on an inside counter play with 1:03 left in the first quarter. Quigley's PAT gave GL a 7-0 lead.
Jacob Wied returned GL's short kickoff 40 yards to the Highlanders' 30-yard line, setting up the Pioneers with enviable field position. Barth trucked the ball on eight of the next nine plays, plowing in from the 1-yard line with 9:19 left in the first half. Mora's point after tied the game, 7-7.
New Providence took a 14-7 lead on its next possession, which featured two long completions by Licari to Sean Michaels--one for 25 yards to the Highlander 38-yard line, and another for the go-ahead touchdown. On fourth-and-one from the 29, Michaels lined up at fullback, but leaked out into a pass pattern. Licari executed the play-action fake perfectly, hitting Michaels with a short pass three yards downfield, and Michaels took it the rest of the way down the right sideline for the TD.