Jada Byers was thinking seven or eight touchdowns might make for a good day’s work.
Deep down, the St. Joseph’s senior running back knew 10 would be perfect.
Byers set a state record Saturday in St. Joseph’s 76-22 win over Morris Catholic in the New Jersey Non-Public 2 state semifinals.
The number was ideal for Byers, who wanted to honor 10-year-old Micah “Dew” Tennant, who died Wednesday after being hit by gunfire at the Nov. 15 playoff game between Camden and host Pleasantville.
“As long as I’m walking he will be too,” Byers said after the game. “I will stay strong for him as long as I live. I did it it for ‘Dew.’”
Byers broke the New Jersey state record for touchdowns in a game of nine, set in 1950 by John Gianantonio of Netcong High and tied in 1989 by Dwayne Peterson of Hoboken, according to sports historian Chuck Langerman.
The South Jersey record was eight, set in 1950 by Roger Morton of Florence and tied in 2012 by Wildwood’s Wes Hills and in 2016 by Pennsauken’s Martin Booker Jr.
Byers also established a South Jersey record for career touchdowns with 102. The old mark of 101 was set in 1995 by Paulsboro’s Kevin Harvey.
Byers, who lives in Bridgeton, said he was deeply affected by the death of Tennant, a fifth grader in Atlantic City who was sitting in the stands when gunfire erupted in the third quarter of the Central Jersey Group 2 semifinals.
“It hurt me bad,” Byers said. “I wanted to do something. He was 10 years old and that happened to him. It’s emotional just talking about it.”
Byers played wearing a long-sleeve shirt under his uniform embossed with Tennant’s picture and the words: “As long as I’m alive and walking, Micah is too #STAYSTRONG”