The Passaic Tech Bulldogs and the Toms River North Mariners will square off on the banks of the old Raritan Monday night. This Group 5 championship matchup will be a rematch of last year when Toms River cruised to a state title 28-7.
How They Got Here:
Passaic Tech came off a win against Union City last week where their defense shined especially in big moments. Union City brought the ball inside the Bulldogs' 10-yard line twice during the game and each time came up empty.
The Passaic Tech special teams disrupted the Union City punt, forcing it to only travel seven total yards. Quarterback Ma'Kao Taylor found paydirt on the ensuing drive to put the Bulldogs up 7-0. Trashon Dye had a 17-yard touchdown scamper of his own, closing out the scoring for the game as Passaic Tech went on to win 14-0. The Bulldogs are the only team to beat Union City in the last two years.
Toms River North topped Cherokee last week to earn their trip back to the state finals. While the Mariners are normally known for their high powered offense, their defense was the group that stepped up in the win. They were able to hold the Chiefs offense to just 76 yards from scrimmage and sacked Cherokee quarterback Ryan Bender six times.
Toms River senior Jeremiah Pruitt had two (yes two!) pick sixes for the Mariners’ defense. Toms River rolled past the Chiefs 33-6 and looks to defend their state title on Monday night.
Trashon Dye has been a dynamic running back all season long for the Passaic Tech Bulldogs. The senior came up big in their semifinal win over Union City, totalling 158 yards and rushing for a touchdown. The Syracuse commit was just named Bergen Record Male Athlete of the week and is focused on taking down Toms River North this year after the painful loss last year.
On the year as a whole, Dye has rushed for over 2,00 yards with 22 touchdowns for the Bulldogs on the offensive end and has 127 tackles as a linebacker on defense.
For Toms River North, Micah Ford is the leader of a Mariners offense that has been one of the top units in the entire state. The Stanford commit was 5-9 throwing the ball for 88 yards and rushed for 191 yards on the ground in the Mariners win over Cherokee. Ford has missed four games this year, but has still totaled 2,265 yards from scrimmage and has 27 total touchdowns on the year.
This may be the most anticipated Group Final game out of the entire slate this year. Passaic Tech is well aware of how last year's game went and look for them to come out fast and try to get the Mariners defense on their heels. Toms River North has been the hottest team in the state coming into this weekend and need to keep their foot on the gas pedal. This game should be full of offense despite the strong defensive performances last week, however, a big defensive play will be what seals this game for either team.
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