PISCATAWAY, NJ - New faces, same result.
With less than a handful of starters back from the undefeated, North Jersey, Group 5 bowl championship team a year ago, one would expect the Piscataway High School varsity football team to possibly take a step back in 2019. But the Chiefs, who are ranked No. 5 in NJ.com’s preseason Top 20, No. 3 in the Home News Tribune’s Greater Middlesex Conference Top 10, No. 17 in the USA Today Network New Jersey’s 2019 preseason state Top 20, and No. 1 in the WCTC Central Jersey high school football Top 10, aren’t about to lay down for anyone.
Led by its defense and special teams, Piscataway opened up the brand new season with a 40-7 victory over neighboring Franklin Friday night at Dominic R. Ciardi Field.
Piscataway, which has won 13 games in a row against the Warriors, now leads the all-time series against its rival, which dates back to 1962, 31-21-3. The two teams used to meet annually on Thanksgiving Day, but the contest has been moved to what is now being called “Rivalry Week”.
Running back Khristian Hernandez scored on a 17-yard run and quarterback Kristopher Hernandez hit receiver Sherrod Cooper for a 25-yard scoring strike in the first and second quarter, respectively, for Piscataway, which led just 14-0 at the half.
Franklin got on the scoreboard and cut the Chiefs’ lead to seven after Kevon Gordon connected with Tahj Hyman for a 23-yard touchdown through the air on a clutch fourth-and-12 play. But the Chiefs reeled-off 26 unanswered points, including 19 in the third quarter, to pull away.
Christian Davis returned the ensuing kickoff 96 yards to the house and Daylin Washington returned an interception 69 yards to pay dirt a few minutes later as Piscataway gained control of the contest.
Fullback Marcus Petite added two 1-yard rushing touchdowns to close the scoring.
As a whole, the Chiefs’ defense was in midseason form as they created six takeaways registering three fumble recoveries and three picks.
Piscataway also held Franklin to just 33 yards rushing on 31 attempts and outgained the opposition on offense from the line to scrimmage, 216-150.
"The defensive performance was great and coming in from the jump we already knew the defense was gonna be stronghold of this team,” Khristian Hernandez said. “In the beginning we had to let the nerves out because we had newcomers starting for the first time ever but once they started to cool down we started to execute. Once again, when adversity hit we pulled through so I’m very proud of how we played but we have a lot of work to do.”
Kristopher Hernandez completed 5-of-8 passes for 58 yards, Khristian Hernandez ran for 63 yards on 10 carries (he also caught a pass for 10 yards), and Cooper caught three balls for 32 yards. Christian White chipped in with 42 yards rushing, Davis had 16, and Petite finished with 33. Aamir Woods got into the action and had two attempts for five yards on the ground
Robert Konya was also 4-for-5 on PAT.
Franklin will be looking for its first win of the season next Friday night at home against Phillipsburg at 7:00 p.m.
Piscataway will remain at home to play another rival, Sayreville, No. 10 in the NJ.com Top 20, next Friday as well at 7:00 p.m.
Follow Chris Nalwasky on Twitter @ChrisWasky.
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