Bears make statement vs. No. 1 Chiefs


Staff Writer

While coaches and players alike will tell you that they don’t believe in moral victories, the East Brunswick football team must feel somewhat good about itself following last Thursday’s loss to Piscataway.

Taking on the top-ranked team in the Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC), the Bears did what just about everyone else has done against the Chiefs — allow some big plays and immediately fall behind early. With just over eight minutes left in the third quarter, the Bears found themselves down 19-0 following a 37-yard TD pass from Robert Rose to Malcolm Jenkins.

But rather than roll over and simply attempt to keep the game respectable, the Bears fought back. They proved without a shadow of a doubt that they are indeed one of the top teams in the conference, and one that is capable of playing with the best the GMC has to offer.

Senior quarterback Matt Mariano got the effort started for the Bears, as he kept the ball on an option and raced 49 yards with less than a minute left in the third. On the next play, he fooled the Piscataway defense with a play-action pass, and found Rob Ayala for a 35-yard score.

The Bears got their second score with just over a minute left in the fourth when Mariano scored from 5 yards out on a keeper to get within 19-13. However, E.B. was out of time-outs, and once the Chiefs recovered the onsides kick, the game was over.

But the Bears sent a message in the loss. Led by Mariano, who rushed for 156 yards on 20 carries, and routinely fooled the Chief defense on option plays, East Brunswick gave the Chiefs a scare. In doing so, Mariano cemented his status as one of the GMC’s top playmakers, while the entire Bear defense did an admirable job of slowing down the potent Chief attack.

It was still a loss, and you’re never happy coming out on that end of the battle. But it was a far cry from the types of defeats the Bears have suffered in years past when taking on the top team in the GMC.