EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Jasiah Purdie’s football farewell to Hasbrouck Heights was spectacular.
Purdie scored five touchdowns to lead Hasbrouck Heights to a convincing 41-7 win over Butler to capture the first-ever New Jersey North Group 1 Bowl Championship. In reality, the game was not even as close as the score would indicate as the Aviators never punted, and had a 20-play drive that consumed all of the fourth quarter in icing the game away.
The Aviators offensive show started early, as Heights opened its bag of trick plays early. Following a defensive stop that forced a Butler punt, the Aviators took over at their own 43. An early fourth and one saw Purdie go for 15 yards and a first down. Following two Michael Robertson runs which resulted in a first down, the Aviators drive bogged down, facing a fourth and eight and the 22 yard line.
Quarterback Spencer Lee hit Purdie on a quick slant, which he lateraled to Robertson, who broke around the end and down the sideline for a 22-yard touchdown run and a 7-0 lead with 4:24 remaining in the first.
Butler offense went three and out, and punted, where Purdie made his only mistake of the game, mishandling the punt. Butler recovered, and looked to have gotten some momentum back. But the Aviators defense shut down Butler once again, forcing two Evan Smith incomplete passes and taking over at the 24 yard line.
The Aviators went on a nine play march, with the big play being a 15-yard run by Purdie and a diving, juggling catch by Ian Rinke on a pass from Lee for a 34-yard gain to bring the ball to the 11-yard line. Four plays later Purdie powered in from one yard out and a 13-0 lead. Matt Gwiszcz’s extra point made the score 14-0.
Butler tried to get their offense going through the air, but defensive linemen Chris Thibeau, Anthony Marino and John Sedlmeir would not give him any time. Smith was sacked twice, forcing the Bulldogs to punt one more time.
It took only one minute and 41 seconds to put Butler in a 21-0 hole, as Purdie broke a run around the right end for a 48-yard scoring run, with 4:09 remaining in the first half.
The defense, which had Butler stymed on the day, had its big play as Zai’heer Jenkins picked off a pass and returned the ball to the Butler 17. The Aviators’ secondary, which has been huge through the post-season with causing turnovers, had its big play.
Purdie powered in from seven yards with 1:02 remaining in the first half, for a 27-0 Aviators lead going into to the half.
Butler, to their credit, did not quit, and came out after halftime with an onside kick attempt that was returned by Rinke to Butler 48-yard line. The Aviators reached back into offensive coordinator Adam Baeira’s bag of trick plays one more time.
Lee handed the ball to Purdie heading around the right end. Purdie handed the ball to Robertson on the reverse, and kept heading down the field. Robertson tossed the ball back to Lee, who hit Purdie going down the sideline. Purdie made the catch and eluded the Butler defenders for a 48-yard touchdown pass. Up 33-0, the Aviators went back to the bag of tricks one more time, but were unable to handle the ball properly. Purdie’s pass was picked off in the end zone, killing the conversion.
Up 33-0, the Aviators defense went flat, sensing the game was over. Sean Centinaro scored from 12 yards out, as Butler got on the board, cutting the lead to 33-7. But any hope of a Miracle in the Meadowlands for Butler were dashed when Purdie returned the onside kick attempt to the 42.
Three more carries by Robertson got the ball down to the 25. Purdie finished the drive, as he did all day, scoring on a 25-yard run for his fifth touchdown of the day and a 39-7 lead. Will Vera powered in with the two-point conversion and a 41-7 lead.
Butler was determined to try to make it a game, and a pair of completions by Smith to Derek Timpinaro and Matt Wolowitz had the Bulldogs driving once again. But Smith was hit on his next pass attempt by Marino,, and was knocked out of the game. Centinaro moved behind center, and lead the Bulldogs to the Aviator half yard.
Facing a second and goal at the one, with the game realistically over, the Aviators could have allowed the Bulldogs to score. But Centinaro was stuffed twice on quarterback sneaks up the middle, as Michael Lorhmann, Alex Daus, Marino, and Matteo Ochoa anchored the middle. Facing fourth and goal at the same spot, the Bulldogs tried a run outside, but were stopped behind the line of scrimmage.
The Aviators took over on their own two-yard line with 25 seconds remaining in the third quarter, and never gave it back. The Aviators embarked on a 20-play drive that saw Heights pick up three first downs on fourth down, and ended when Lee took a knee on the final play of the game, with the Aviators celebrating their first North Jersey Group 1 Bowl Championship.
“I would like to go over hug all my lineman right now,” said a happy Purdie who was surprised when someone told him that he had scored five touchdowns. “They do such a great job for me, for the team. We would not be here without them."
When asked what was next for him, Purdie laughed and said, “Basketball. I think I have a scrimmage next week.”
After the game Hasbrouck Heights Head Coach Nick Delcalzo addressed the question of whether this was the best Hasbrouck Heights team ever.
“We have been fortunate to have a lot of very good teams in Hasbrouck Heights,“ Delcalzo stated. “This one ranks very highly with all those schools. We have had great teams that did not win a state title, losing in the playoffs to a team that played even greater than we did. But, this team definitely ranks up there.
You won’t find anybody disagreeing.
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