Sports

Union County Rallies in Final Minutes of Snapple Bowl to Top Middlesex

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Recent Westfield High School graduates Jeff Gagum and Max Schwetje took part in the 24th Snapple Bowl Thursday.
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The victorious Union County Team Credits: Patrick Ragazzo
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Cranford’s quarterback Brian Oblachinski, MVP of the game Credits: Patrick Ragazzo
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Union County at the end zone Credits: Patrick Ragazzo
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Union County on Defense Credits: Patrick Ragazzo
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UNION, NJ – Recent Westfield High School graduates Jeff Gagum and Max Schwetje were part of the Union County team that rallied in the final minutes of the 24th Snapple Bowl all-star football game Thursday to beat Middlesex County, 27-14, 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. 

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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.

The first half of this game saw 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.

Things started to heat up in second half with Cranford quarterback Brian Oblachinski hitting fellow Cranford teammate Ryan Bakie for a 27-yard touchdown, extending Union’s lead to 13-0. The extra point was missed.

Middlesex responded quickly with its own touchdown drive to finish the third quarter and narrow Union’s lead to 13-7.  The Middlesex offense was soon back on the field because of a midfield interception.

Following the turnover, Middlesex’s offense stalled and had to punt, but they got the ball back again when they recovered the ball after it bounced off a Union player. This time the turnover proved costly for Union as Middlesex drove right down the field and scored the go ahead touchdown and point after to take a 14-13 lead with less than four minutes left to play in the fourth quarter.

Union’s offense was up to the test. Led by Oblachinski, they drove down the field on two consecutive passes for big gains to New Providence wide receiver John Barletta. Then Oblachinski found Union wide receiver Justin Beckett who hauled in a pass at the five-yard line. On the very next play, Arthur L. Johnson running back Nick Fischetti scored the go ahead touchdown on a five yard run to put Union back on top 19-14 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 all but seal the victory for Union County. Following the interception Rahway running back Terrance Anderson punched the ball into the end zone for the insurance score in the final minute of the game to seal the win for Union County 27-14.

Cranford’s quarterback Brian Oblachinski was named MVP of the game.

This was Union County’s second consecutive victory and narrowed Middlesex’s advantage in the series to 14-10.

The Snapple Bowl is an annual high school football all-star game between Union and Middlesex County. The game features some of the most skilled players from every public school in each county.  

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