UNION, NJ – Union County rallied in the final minutes of the storm-interrupted game to beat Middlesex County 27-14 in the 24th annual Snapple Bowl played Thursday at Kean University’s Alumni Stadium.
The first half of this game was pretty quiet with only one score. Union County took a 7-0 lead on a 26-yard touchdown pass from Roselle quarterback Gerald Hairston III to his fellow Roselle wide receiver Drew Stephens. The first half was followed by an hour-long storm delay.
Following the delay, things started to heat up in second half with Cranford quarterback Brian Oblachinski hitting fellow Cranford teammate Ryan Bakie for a 27-yard touchdown, and extending Union’s lead to 13-0.
Middlesex responded quickly with its own touchdown drive to finish the third quarter and narrow Union’s lead to 13-7.
Following a Union turnover, Middlesex’s offense stalled, but they got the ball back again when they recovered a dropped punt. This time the turnover proved costly for Union as Middlesex drove right down the field and scored the go-ahead touchdown to take a 14-13 lead with less than 4 minutes left to play in the game.
Union’s offense was up to the test. Led by Oblachinski, who was named the game’s MVP, Union County drove down the field on two consecutive passes for big gains to New Providence wide receiver Mike Barletta. Then Oblachinski found Union wide-out Justin Beckett who hauled in a pass at the 5-yard line.
On the very next play, Arthur L. Johnson running back Nick Fischetti scored the game-winning touchdown on a five yard run with 2:15 remaining. Following this score, Oblachinski found Rahway tight end A.J Smith on a bootleg for a two point conversion to make the score 21-14.
Middlesex had one final chance to tie the score. On their first play of the drive, Middlesex’s quarterback was picked off by Union defensive back Justin Beckett to seal the victory for Union County.
Rahway running back Terrance Anderson added an insurance score in the final minute of the game.
This was Union County’s second consecutive victory and narrowed Middlesex’s advantage in the series to 14-10.
Joe Kastner represented Jonathan Dayton High School in the game.