Jackson Liberty Holds it Close in First Playoff Game
By Dean Pinto
The Jackson Liberty Lions headed up to Middlesex County in the school’s first ever playoff appearance against a tough Colonia Patriots, (Woodbridge area) team in the NJ Division Central Group 4 matchup.
The Lions offense had a rough start and one play after a bad snap and loss of 3 yards, they turned the ball over on their second possession of the game. The defense seemed to respond when they had their backs up against the wall and twice stopped the Patriots in the red zone for a scoreless first quarter.
With 6:59 remaining in the second quarter, Colonia was able to move the ball to the 6 yard line of Liberty, where #5 Trent Barneys would run it in on a quarterback keeper for the first touchdown of the game and the PAT kick would be made for the Patriots 7-0 lead.
Liberty was unable to get much going on the offensive side of the ball, with #30 Bruce Almodovar having 50 rushing yards, #5 Matt Castronuova only 11 yards and 1 pass completion for 7 yards to #40 Jeremy Sousa. The defense would bend, but not break in the 2nd quarter holding the Patriots to the 1 TD and that would be all the scoring going into halftime.
Early in the 3rd quarter, the Patriots would trade fumbles/turnovers with Liberty as both quarterbacks, #5, Barneys and Castronuova would cough up the ball, but the turnover by Liberty would prove costly as #15, Jake Pero would break out on a 76 rushing touchdown with under 9 minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter.
Things would get interesting as the Lions kept battling and after two personal foul penalties against Colonia, Matt Castronuova was able to reach the end zone on a 2nd and 4 from the 6, with Mike Ostrowski adding the PAT.
In the 4th quarter, the Patriots would see #23 C.J. Cimiluca on a 2nd and 6 from the 10 put up another touchdown for the Colonia 21-7 lead. Liberty would get the ball back but once again fall victim to a turnover after a bad snap and recovery by Colonia. With 4 minutes left in the game, Colonia was unable to move the ball thanks due to hard tackles made by #34 Justin Goodman, and #55 Chris Cruz. The Lions would also keep things close as they were able to get within a touchdown of tying the game on a 43 yard pass completion touchdown to #44 Ahmed Foster.
The Patriots would respond and see #15 Jake Pero bust off a 44 yard rushing TD for their 4th touchdown of the game and also seal the victory with only 1:20 left in regulation. The game would end at Colonia 28, Liberty 14.
The Lions have one game left on their schedule, which is against their cross-town rivals, the Jackson Memorial Jaguars, (2-7) (2-5), which will be played at Liberty on Saturday, November 24 at 1p.m.
The Lions are still looking for their first win over the Jaguars since the inception of Liberty in 2006. The Jaguars look to rebound after they lost their consolation game against Lenape 37-21.