COLONIA, N.J. -- Turnovers proved costly as the South Plainfield High School varsity football team committed six of them en route to a 33-13 road loss to Colonia.
With the defeat, the Tigers drop to 1-2 on the and year and 0-2 in the Greater Middlesex Conference - Blue Division. Meanwhile, the Patriots improve to 2-2 overall and 2-1 in the division.
Colonia’s Antonio Alfano, Zachary Pereira, and Chris Waldron all recovered fumbles and Justice Harris intercepted three passes, including a one-handed one which he brought back for a 99-yard pick-six with less than a minute remaining to seal the deal.
The Patriots found themselves on the scoreboard first thanks to a Harris 29-yard touchdown run after he grabbed his first interception of the night. Then, in the second quarter, quarterback Eric Hamilton-Moreno found Kenny Shinski for a 61-yard passing score deep down the left sideline to put the home team up 14-0.
South Plainfield running back Kyshon Hopkins gave visitors some life however with a 6-yard touchdown run off the right side to make it 14-7 heading into halftime.
But, to begin the third quarter, Patriots tailback Matt Croteau punched in a 2-yard touchdown on the ground to give his team a two score advantage.
In the fourth, lots of fireworks went on as big plays were made on both sides. On a halfback option, Hopkins threw a 76-yard touchdown pass to Ashwin deGroot to cut it to 21-13 with a little over five minutes to go.
Harris wasn’t going to let South Plainfield get any closer however as two plays from scrimmage later, the senior took a handoff, bounced left, and raced 72 yards down the sideline for a touchdown and a 27-13 lead.
The Tigers drove down the field to the Colonia 18-yard line but Harris made the play of the day and maybe even the year already for Patriots. Harris stepped in front of the South Plainfield receiver, jumped sky high, and intercepted a pass with his right hand and took back to the house for a 99-yard return score.
Nobody was close to catching him.
Harris finished with three touchdowns and three interceptions.
Next week, Colonia will travel to Carteret while South Plainfield will host Iselin Kennedy (J.F. Kennedy).
The Tigers will have a must-win on their hands against 1-2 and 0-2 Mustangs before the schedule picks up significantly with games at North Hunterdon, at Linden, home against Woodbridge, and at Carteret after that to round out the 2019 campaign. South Plainfield will also play at home on Thanksgiving versus rival North Plainfield.