NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—On Friday October 7, the New Brunswick Zebras football team (1-4) got off to a good start but were ultimately outscored at home by the Middletown North Lions (3-1).
With quarterback Jah’Bree Seawright-Jeffery going 6 for 6 including a 41-yard touchdown to Kadas Reams to lead 7-0, along with a big defensive stop after the Lions failed a fourth and one conversion, the game looked promising for the Zebrasafter the the first six minutes of play.
Reams has been a consistent target for Jeffrey this season, adding 141 yards on 9 catches and two touchdowns against the Lions.
Despite a slow start and one interception, Middletown North destroyed the Zebras’ run game to put them at a -11 yard total and bounced back to combine for 374 yards offensively.
Tailback Dwight Wilkerson had a big game with one touchdown, 119 yards rushing on 17 carries and 68 yards receiving on four catches.
He became the new starting tailback for the Lions with the absence of Connor Welsh, and with back to back impressive games he has proven to be a headache for defenses.
Fullback Connor Robbins added two touchdowns with 65 yards rushing on 18 carries, and wide receiver Brendan Kube chipped in one receiving touchdown along with 78 yards on five catches.
The Zebras sorely missed their starting running back Dylan Johnson as they simply could not escape the Lions’ defense.
Johnson is still recovering from his head injury from their previous game against Monroe after turning in a three touchdown performance on 183 yards rushing.
Despite getting sacked three times, the most this season, and one thrown interception, Seawright-Jeffery passed for three touchdowns on 15/31 attempts for 246 yards.
Seawright-Jeffery was sacked on the first play of the game by Brock Zenker, resulting in a 5-yard loss.
He responded with a 20-yard pass to Reams, followed by passes to tight end Curtis Revan and running back Kyell Lewis.
Seawright-Jeffery threw 5/5 on his first drive, but after getting sacked for a 7-yard loss by Justin Muller and Kyle Ewington the Zebras were forced to punt on fourth and 13.
On the Lions’ first drive they went four and out, failing to convert on a fourth and one left the Zebras with the ball on the Lion 41-yard line.
Back to the air Seawright-Jeffery floated a pass over to Reams streaking down the sideline for a 41-yard touchdown. After Axel Aprecio’s extra point, Zebras led 7-0.
The Zebras started off strong on both sides of the ball, but the Lions were unfazed.
Quarterback Donald Glenn found wide receiver Brendan Kube for passing plays of 11 and 40 yards, finishing their second drive with running back Connor Robbins rushing up the gut with great blocking for a 14-yard touchdown. Tied at 7-7.
“I think we got off to a slow start and I think that we didn’t execute as much as we should have on offense, we had too many penalties,” said Glenn, who finished 10 of 19 for 162 yards.
“A win’s a win, we’ll take them however we get them, but I think in film tomorrow we are going to need to fix a lot of things and we have to get better for a tough Wall team.”
Seawright-Jeffrey looked to find German Pimentel on the next drive, but was faced with immediate pressure from the defensive line, a recurring situation throughout the contest.
The drive ended with Seawright-Jeffrey throwing on the run, forcing a pass which was intercepted by Zenker for 40 yards down to the Zebra 32-yard line.
On the following play Kube was wide open down the field, scoring an easy 32-yard touchdown. Lions 7-14.
After eating up five minutes of game clock on their next drive after Joe Cavanagh’s 28-yard field goal, the Lions led 7-17 at the end of the half.
The Lions started the third quarter by traveling 64-yards with success on both the run and pass game, only facing one third down and finishing the drive with a 9-yard run from Robbins. Lions 7-24.
After recovering an onside kick, the Zebras started on their own 49 yard line. Despite good field position, the Zebras committed three penalties and could not execute deep passes to German Pimentel, resulting in a three and out.
Pimentel, one of Seawright-Jeffery’s main targets, was heavily guarded throughout the night, not receiving a single pass. The Zebras also committed 11 penalties worth 80 total yards.
Both teams would go three and out on the next four drives, one drive with Seawright-Jeffrey getting sacked by defensive end Austin Dewise for a loss of 12 on fourth down.
“We came out a little weak, but then we picked it up, we got the lead, got a little comfortable, started letting up a bit, but we shut down the run,” said Dewise.
“We just got to work on the passing a little bit.”
Using four plays from midfield, Wilkerson ran all 50 yards, completing the drive with a 12-yard rushing touchdown. Lions 7-31, their largest lead of the night with 10:36 left in the game.
Beautifully thrown while flushed out of the pocket, Seawright-Jeffery appeared to be running for a first down, but then connected with Lewis for a 37-yard touchdown pass; however, the Zebras burned almost four minutes on this drive. Lions 14-31 with 6:43 remaining.
The lions went back to the run game with Robbins and Wilkerson before punting, now 3:49 remained.
Seawright-Jeffery looked to Revan for a quick 3-yard pass, then another quick pass which he turned into a 45-yard pick up by breaking multiple tackles.
Reams would later receive a 10-yard passing touchdown, his second of the game. Lions 20-31 after the Zebras failed the 2-point conversion with 2:08 left.
Revan made big plays for the Zebras offensively this week by not only catching, but using his size to break tackles and pick up extra yardage, finishing with 68 yards on four catches.
Without any timeouts remaining, the Lions ran down the clock to two seconds, ending the game as the Zebras were down by two scores.
Reiterating head coach Steve Bush’s words after the game, Dewise said, “He says we got to keep fighting because we can’t give up like that. It shows right there that a team can come back if we just get too comfortable.”
The Zebras return to action at Memorial Stadium on October 14 at 7 p.m. for their next Red Division matchup with the Edison High School team.