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Thundering Herd trample Paulsboro

Woodbury held the Raiders to 75 yards to win its first sectional title since 1998.

Woodbury's Brian Purnell shakes an arm tackle by Aaron Tilden to score a touchdown in the Herd's 16-0 victory.
Woodbury's Brian Purnell shakes an arm tackle by Aaron Tilden to score a touchdown in the Herd's 16-0 victory.Read moreMICHAEL S. WIRTZ / Staff Photographer

Woodbury coach Zack Valentine saw this coming in the summer.

He saw it coming after the Thundering Herd's only loss of the football season.

He saw it coming at Monday's practice.

"I could see it in their eyes," Valentine said of his players. "I could tell how much they wanted it."

Woodbury dominated its fiercest rival in difficult conditions, scoring a 16-0 victory over Paulsboro yesterday in the South Jersey Group 1 championship game.

Senior quarterback Brian Purnell ran 78 yards for the first touchdown, and the Woodbury defense held Paulsboro to just 75 yards as the Thundering Herd won their first sectional title since 1998 and sixth overall.

Woodbury (11-1) finished the season on a 10-game winning streak.

Paulsboro finished 10-2, with both losses to Woodbury.

"They played better than we did," Paulsboro coach Glenn Howard said. "They controlled the line of scrimmage both offensively and defensively."

Woodbury's defense was dominant in the windy mix of rain and snow that turned the Thundering Herd's home field into a 100-yard mudpile.

Junior defensive linemen Karon Gibson and Aamir Petrose combined for five sacks of Paulsboro quarterback Kevin Johnson. The Thundering Herd recovered two fumbles and scored the game's final points on defense as Gibson, Teddy Johnson, and James Jones combined to sack Johnson in the end zone for a safety.

"We believed we could dominate the game up front," said Gibson, a 6-foot, 260-pound defensive tackle and fullback. "That's where we won this game and this championship."

Purnell made the game's biggest play when he rolled right, reversed field, and raced down the left sideline for a touchdown early in the second quarter.

"I got some great blocks," said Purnell, who was sprung by Gibson's block on the edge of Paulsboro's defense.

Purnell recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, and the Thundering Herd went 42 yards in seven plays for another touchdown. The big play was a 23-yard pass from Purnell to Jared Roberts to the Paulsboro 4-yard line.

Freshman Anthony Averett scored on the next play, and Purnell's second extra point made it 14-0.

"Paulsboro is an excellent team," Valentine said. "But I had a lot of confidence in this team."

Valentine was optimistic in the summer and never wavered after a 28-7 loss to Haddonfield on Sept. 17.

"I told these guys after that game they could run the table," Valentine said. "I knew they could do it."

Paulsboro 0 0 0 0 - 0

Woodbury 0 14 0 2 - 16

W: Brian Purnell 78 run (Purnell kick)

W: Anthony Averett 4 run (Purnell kick)

W: Safety