Piscataway, Somerville punch tickets to Championship Weekend

Piscataway and Somerville joined North Brunswick Saturday in clinching berths in sectional finals in the New Jersey High School Football playoffs.

The top-seeded Chiefs (10-0) held off a game Ridge ballclub, beating the 4th-seeded Red Devils 40-13 behind 185 rushing yards and three touchdowns from Juwon Jackson.  His TD scampers of 14 and 55 yards in the second quarter gave the Chiefs a 20-0 lead heading into halftime.  He added a 58-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter.  And while Ridge closed to within 26-13 on a 1-yard TD run by Christian Sweenet and a 28-yard TD strike from Wes Hudkins to Jake Hoffman following an onside kick recovery, the Chiefs responded with fourth quarter TD runs by Nasir Best and Daniel Lopez to reverse any momentum the Red Devils hoped to gather.

Piscataway will host 2nd-seed Union City (9-1) in the North Jersey, Section 2 - Group 5 championship game at Ciardi Stadium next Saturday afternoon at 1 pm.  The Soaring Eagles crushed 3rd-seed Union in their semifinal game Friday night 46-6.

Meanwhile, Somerville advanced to the Central Jersey Group 3 title game for the second straight year.  The top-seeded Pioneers (11-0) rallied from a 14-3 deficit against 4th-seed Holmdel to win 31-23.  Jalahn Dabney and Duke McDuffie each rushed for two touchdowns in the win, after Bobby Wortman's field goal started the scoring, getting The 'Ville on the board after falling behind 7-0.

Somerville will host the winner of Saturday's 6pm semifinal featuring 3rd-seed Red Bank and 2nd-seed Rumson-Fair Haven.  The Pioneers beat Rumson in last year's CJ3 title game, after losing to the Bulldogs in the 2016 semifinals.

Four teams were knocked out of the postseason Saturday afternoon.

In addition to Ridge - which lost to Piscataway -  South Plainfield, Bernards and Immaculata also were eliminated from the playoffs.

South Plainfield lost 28-7 to 3rd-seed Rahway in North 2, Group 3 semifinal action.  The 7th-seeded Tigers had been the lowest remaining seed in the entire state playoffs.  They are 5-5, and we're hearing they will indeed play North Plainfield Thanksgiving week, now that they've been eliminated from the playoffs.  South Plainfield had decided earlier this season to cancel the game.

Bernards lost 21-3 at top-seed Hillside Saturday afternoon in the Central Jersey Group 2 semis to finish 8-2.

And Immaculata was beaten by top-seed St. Joseph-Hammonton in Non-Public Group 2 semifinal play 52-0.  The Spartans finished 5-5 under first-year coach Mike Columbo.