NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – Next week’s season finale is in question after the New Brunswick High School football team’s game with East Brunswick on Saturday afternoon ended with players from the sidelines running onto the field to join a fight.
Tom Stead, the athletic director at New Brunswick High School, said after the game that he will be reviewing the situation with security officials and coaches. He said he will make a determination as to whether to play next Saturday's game against Elizabeth.
Players began to push and shove moments after the tackle was made on the final play of East Brunswick’s 14-7 victory at Memorial Stadium.
The helmet of one East Brunswick player became dislodged, and other players on the field rushed over.
Players from both sidelines sprinted onto the field. Many of them gathered around a pile of other players who were on the ground, fighting.
Stead and the coaches jumped in to separate the players and restore order.
One New Brunswick player had to be restrained by several teammates and a coach from going back onto the field to rejoin the fight.
As he was leaving the field, a New Brunswick player kicked the dislodged helmet about 30 yards. It came to rest on the track that circles the football field.
New Brunswick players gathered near their bench, and a few of them began to remove their equipment.
That's when there seemed to be some communication between one of the New Brunswick players and someone in the visitor's section of the stands. The announcer twice asked, “If you’re an adult yelling at high school students, please leave the stadium.”
The incident overshadowed what was a gutsy performance by New Brunswick.
The Zebras (2-5) started Quentin Tibbs at quarterback in the place of Bryan Latham, who suffered an injured shoulder in Monday’s loss to Monroe. Tibbs, however, was forced to leave Saturday’s game in the second half with an injury.
Tibbs, the team’s only captain, was missed for his leadership and because the Zebras did not have a third-string quarterback ready to go into the game.
Without a quarterback, the Zebras employed a wildcat-style offense. They alternated snapping the ball directly to Eli Rodriguez, Amier Alford and Jarazell Bull.
Trailing 7-0 to East Brunswick (3-4), the Zebras mounted a nine-play, 56-yard drive. Alford ran the ball five times during the drive, often refusing to go down, breaking tackles and pushing the pile ahead for extra yards.
By the time Alford scored on a 7-yard run to tie the game with 1:27 left in the third quarter, the momentum had switched to New Brunswick.
New Brunswick went on a nine-play drive in the fourth quarter, moving the ball from its own 11 into Bears territory. Alford had the biggest play of the drive, a 21-yard run around the right side of the line.
The Zebras lined up for a go-ahead, 36-yard field goal with 1:52 left in the game, but the attempt was blocked.
East Brunswick quarterback Zach Zebro moved the Bears down field, keyed by a 34-yard completion and a 22-yard run on a third-and-5 play.
Zebro eventually scored on a 3-yard run with 51 seconds remaining to give East Brunswick a 14-7 lead.
With the clock working against them, the Zebras refused to quit.
They used a trick play, a fumblerooski, to gain 13 yards. On the play, guard Bryan Garcia picked up a ball that was strategically placed on the ground and took it up the left sideline.
The Zebras then used a hook and ladder play in which Anthony Brown Jr. caught a pass and pitched it to Bull, who moved it to the Bears’ 41.
With three seconds remaining, the Zebras completed one last throw downfield. As soon as the receiver was tackled, the pushing and shoving started.
Officials from both schools said no one was injured in the brawl.
The Zebras are scheduled to play at Elizabeth on Saturday, Nov. 21.