Edison Football Edges North Brunswick in Early November Thriller



North Brunswick attempts to secure the ball from Edison player Nyekir Eato ’25.

On a clear Friday night, Edison football secured a wild 33–31 Central Jersey conference semifinal victory against North Brunswick. Edison quarterback Mathew “Matt” Yascko ‘23 threw for 135 yards and two touchdowns, Nyekir Eato ‘25 rushed for 104 yards and a touchdown, and the team collectively caught for 116 yards, including two touchdowns, in the win.

“It was an unbelievable game,” said Head Coach Mr. Matthew Fulham. “Our team displayed a tremendous amount of heart and determination to earn the victory. I am really proud of our coaching staff and players.” 

Both Edison and New Brunswick played at full strength on Friday with no players out to injury. The match was the second game between the two teams this season, the first of which was a North Brunswick 13–10 victory on September 9. 

Edison began the first quarter by deferring on the coin toss and kicking the ball off to the North Brunswick offense. The Raiders offense executed a few plays for short gains before being forced to punt on fourth down. On the ensuing possession, the Edison offense found itself in a similar position, making it to fourth and short before turning the ball over on downs. The remainder of the first quarter largely saw neither team move the ball too far down the field before being forced to punt. By the end of the quarter, both teams combined to punt three times in total. 

Loved every second of it, and happy to come out on top with a big win against a great team

— Selbin Sabio '23

Edison’s defense began the second quarter with great momentum when it recovered a fumble at the North Brunswick 27-yard-line. Despite working with great field position, the offense was unable to convert the takeaway into a touchdown, and settled for Selbin Sabio ‘23’s 21-yard field goal to open up the scoring. Beginning on their own 20-yard-line on the next drive, the North Brunswick offense passed and ran its way up the field before scoring on a 20-yard touchdown run by quarterback Frankie Garbolino ‘23. Garbolino also ran the ball to convert a two-point conversion attempt, making the score 8–3, in favor of North Brunswick.

Edison matched North Brunswick’s previous drive with a short drive of its own, starting at its own 37 before reaching the Raiders red zone on a series of first down runs and passes.

With around four minutes to play in the half, Yascko connected with Eato for a 28-yard catch-and-run touchdown. Sabio’s extra point conversion made the score 10–8, in favor of Edison. 

North Brunswick returned Edison’s ensuing kickoff to their 18-yard-line to begin their drive. Only a few plays later, Eagles’ defensive back Ah’mer Gibbs ‘24 recovered a Raiders fumble at the North Brunswick 34-yard-line. About a minute later, Yascko would find receiver Michael Strachan ‘23 in the endzone for a short four-yard touchdown connection. Sabio’s extra point conversion extended Edison’s lead to 17–8 with under a minute to play in the half. 

North Brunswick fielded Edison’s kickoff at the 33-yard-line before entering their one-minute-drive offense. Using their timeouts to conserve time, the Raiders offense passed its way to Edison’s one-yard-line, after which Garbolino reached the endzone on a one-yard quarterback sneak. Garbolino also converted the extra point try, closing out the half at a score of 17–15, in favor of Edison.

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Edison began the second half of the game on the receiving end, as it had kicked off to North Brunswick after the pregame coin toss. Over the next three minutes, Edison made some small gains on both the ground and in the air, but failed to move too deep into North Brunswick territory. Fielding the ensuing punt at its own 20-yard-line, the Raiders’ offense slowly moved its way up to midfield before a long 51-yard touchdown strike from Frankie Garbolino to younger brother Jack Garbolino ‘25 put six points on the board for North Brunswick. Electing for the two-point conversion over the extra point try, Jack Garbolino powered through Edison’s goal line defense to convert the attempt, making the score 23–17, North Brunswick. Edison spent the remainder of the third quarter moving the ball into Raiders’ territory. 

Just under a minute into the fourth quarter, the Eagles’ offense lost all the momentum it had gained during its third-quarter drive when the team failed to convert on a fourth down attempt deep into Raiders’ territory, turning the ball over to North Brunswick at their own 34-yard-line. The Raiders’ offense made the most of this opportunity, using up seven minutes of playtime to slowly run into the Edison redzone before scoring on a rushing touchdown by Zhamir Dawud ‘23 from 14 yards out. Frankie Garbolino completed the two-point pass attempt to his brother, making the score 31–17, North Brunswick. 

Trailing by two scores with less than four minutes to play, Edison needed nothing short of a miracle to mount a comeback and win the game. Fielding North Brunswick’s kickoff at their own 32-yard-line, Edison quickly moved down the field on a series of pass plays to find themselves deep in North Brunswick territory with around three minutes left to play. Yascko’s 22-yard touchdown pass to receiver Kevin Smith ‘23, and Sabio’s good kick put Edison within one score of North Brunswick, while still trailing 24–31. 

Recognizing that it would only take the North Brunswick offense a single first down to “ice” the game, Edison’s coaches elected to attempt recovering an onside kick—a move that has historically seen a low success rate in high school, collegiate, and professional-level football, but gives the losing team an opportunity to execute back-to-back offensive drives and begin with great field position. Kicking from their own 35-yard-line, Edison kicked the onside, and recovered. 

Our team displayed a tremendous amount of heart and determination to earn the victory.

— Mr. Matthew Fulham

Operating from their own 49-yard-line with three minutes to play, Edison only had to score a touchdown and convert its extra point try to tie the game and force overtime play. Moving quickly down the field, the Eagles’ receiving corps caught pass after pass to move the offense to within five yards of the North Brunswick endzone, after which Yascko scored on a run from four yards out. But instead of electing for the safer extra point attempt, Edison’s coaches favored a “gutsier” two-point conversion to win it all. Edison’s attempt failed, leaving it down by one and in need of another onside recovery with under a minute left to play in the game. 

To recover even one onside kick was an Edison miracle in and of itself. To recover two in the same semifinals game would mean making school and sport history. On the ensuing onside kick attempt—one that would determine whether North Brunswick could run out the clock or Edison still had a chance at completing their comeback—Edison’s special teams unit successfully recovered the ball at the North Brunswick 49-yard-line, giving the offense one final attempt to win the game. The Eagles offense quickly moved the ball to the North Brunswick 20-yard line before settling for a final field goal try to win the game. Sabio’s 30-yard field goal attempt sailed straight through the uprights as time expired, completing Edison’s miraculous comeback against a strong North Brunswick semifinals team and securing the Eagles’ first sectional final appearance since 1991. 

“Just an all around great game to be a part of,” said Sabio, the hero of the night for Edison. “Loved every second of it, and happy to come out on top with a big win against a great team.” 

Edison will be playing top-seeded Lenape on Friday, November 11. The winner of the game will play the winner of Toms River North versus Kingsway in a Final Four match to determine one participant in the championship game. 

Game statistics are available from NJ.com. 

The Edison High Film Club has photos available in its album.