PISCATAWAY, NJ -- The Piscataway High School and Franklin High School football teams have met on the gridiron almost every year for a Thanksgiving holiday showdown, first meeting in 1962. The neighboring rivals hate each other for a lack of a better word, and always play extremely hard against one another.
The contest is also sometimes the final game of the season for both teams, which was the case on Thursday where they defeated the Franklin Township Warriors, 40-14.
But then Piscataway (8-3) lost in the NJSIAA North Jersey, Section 2, Group 5 semifinals to Bridgewater-Raritan last Saturday. Franklin (3-7) did not make the postseason.
Against Franklin, five different players scored touchdowns and 11 players touched the ball on offense for Piscataway as the Chiefs spread the wealth. They finished with 278 total yards of offense compared to 122 for Franklin.
Piscataway running back Juwon Jackson rushed 12 times for 126 yards and a touchdown, and quarterback Joseph Hatcher completed 8-of-10 passes for 87 for four touchdowns to lead the way. Hatcher found seven players for his completions and threw two touchdowns to Nahjir Woods (two catches for 52 yards) and one each to Keshawn Grant (one for 13) and Jevon Buckmire-Davis (one for seven).
Jackson got the ball rolling for Piscataway as he punched in a 44-yard score on the ground in the first quarter shedding many would-be tacklers along the way. Hatcher then found Woods for a 27-yard score as well as Grant and Davis for touchdowns which was followed by a Michael Petite 2-yard score on the ground in the first half. Nick Recine had a big interception, Matt Petersen blocked a punt, and Paris Foster notched a key sack before the break as well.
After Petite's rumble, Franklin's Tykey Reinberry returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards to the house for the Warriors' first points. Piscataway led 33-7 at halftime.
Hatcher then found Woods for a 25-yard score through the air in the third quarter and Franklin's Jamilie Holmes grabbed a 7-yard touchdown from Antonio Scott in the fourth to round out the scoring.
On defense, Recine finished with a team-high seven tackles while David Greene and Petite had six apiece. Grant and Foster had each as well.
For the Warriors, Scott had three completions for 30 yards. Reinberry caught two of them for 23 yards and had 36 yards on the ground on seven carries.
Piscataway has now won 11 straight times against Franklin and leads the all-time series 29-21-1.
To sum up the year, Hatcher completed 71-of-135 attempts for 899 yards with 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Woods was the team's leading receiver, making 18 receptions for 356 yards and four touchdowns. Isaiah Colon was next in line with seven grabs for 115 yards and a score. Grant finished with two receiving touchdowns as well.
On the ground, Jackson was the bell cow, racking up 190 carries for 1,777 yards and 22 touchdowns as he replaced the school's all-time leading rusher, Elijah Barnwell, who is now at Rutgers. Backup Nasir Best had 35 attempts for 350 yards and six more scores.
The Chiefs will look to “reload” in 2018.
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*Information courtesy of Chiefs' statistician, John Thompson and NJ.com.