It wasn't a perfect game.
It just was the perfect ending to the perfect season.
Actually, two perfect seasons.
"This is the best feeling I've ever had as a coach," Glassboro coach Herb Neilio said after the Bulldogs completed their second consecutive 12-0 season with a 28-8 victory over Penns Grove yesterday in the South Jersey Group 1 football championship game.
On a cold, overcast afternoon, Glassboro overcame penalties that nullified two touchdowns, as well as some physical play by the Penns Grove defense, to become just the fourth team in the seven-county South Jersey region to win 24 games in two seasons.
Paulsboro, West Deptford and Florence (which did it twice) also managed back-to-back 12-0 seasons since the NJSIAA expanded the playoff field to eight teams in 1998.
Senior quarterback Tim Breaker was 8 for 14 passing for 86 yards, and senior running back Stephen Davis rushed 13 times for 66 yards and a TD for Glassboro.
Senior running back Loronday Gaines and sophomore fullback PJ James added touchdown runs as the Bulldogs won their seventh sectional title.
Senior running back Aaron Hayward, who has committed to Rutgers, scored on a 29-yard sweep for Penns Grove (9-3).
"Penns Grove is a good team," said Glassboro senior linebacker Joshua Bell, who made 11 tackles. "We knew they were going to play us tough. But we had to stay strong, and we knew that we would make some big plays."
Glassboro led by just 6-0 at halftime and by just 14-8 early in the fourth quarter. Penns Grove had the momentum after Sam Ridgeway returned an interception 26 yards to the Glassboro 48 with 10 minutes, 25 seconds remaining in the game.
But Glassboro defensive back Ricky Tunstall, who is mulling a scholarship offer from Delaware - Blue Hens coach K.C. Keeler was in attendance - recovered a fumble, and the Bulldogs were back in business.
Two runs each by Davis and Gaines, plus a personal foul on Penns Grove, moved Glassboro to the 11-yard line. From there, James burst over left tackle and into the end zone.
"They were doing some different things," Neilio said of Penns Grove. "We just needed to settle down."
Davis intercepted a Penns Grove pass on the next play. The Bulldogs went 44 yards in five plays - plus another personal foul against the Red Devils - and Davis finished the drive with a 4-yard run.
"It's just a matter of time with us," Davis said. "We're going to make big plays eventually and win the game."
Glassboro managed the only score of the first half when senior Tyquan Briggs recovered a fumble in the end zone. The play began with Penns Grove in punt formation, but a low snap and a fierce rush by Glassboro forced a fumble that Briggs pounced on with 8:13 left in the half.
Breaker's pass completions, including a 21-yarder to Tunstall and a 25-yarder to James, moved Glassboro into position for its next touchdown. Gaines finished the drive with an 15-yard run, and Breaker hit Courtney Gadson for the two-point conversion to make it 14-0 early in the third quarter.
Penns Grove answered with its best drive as sophomore Darron Mills broke a 32-yard run and Hayward finished the drive with a 29-yard burst around left end.
"They are big and physical and we knew they would give us a tough game," Neilio said. "But I have to give credit to our kids. They step up and make plays when they need to."
Penns Grove 0 0 8 0 - 8
Glassboro 0 6 8 14 - 28
G: Briggs recover fumble in end zone (kick fail)
G: Gaines 15 run (Gadson pass from Breaker)
PG: Hayward 29 run (Hayward run)
G: James 11 run (pass fail)
G: Davis 4 run (Breaker run)