The rivalry between P'burg and Easton has long been recognized as one of the most intense in the country. P'burg-Easton was listed among Sports Illustrated's best rivalries in 1994, and was listed as the greatest high school rivalry in the nation on the front page of USA Today on November 22, 2006. And in 2007, the annual clash between these two interstate rivals was inducted into the Great American Rivalry Series by iHigh.com. The Thanksgiving day meeting between the two traditional football powers has also gained national recognition through television, having been broadcast live on ESPN on two occasions: in1988, and again in 2006, the 100th meeting between the two schools.
The rivalry has it all: a long and storied history spanning more than a century, and great tradition-P'burg is ranked #1 in wins in New Jersey, while Easton is ranked #2 in Pennsylvania. The game embodies a natural interstate rivalry between two proud schools in bordering states who are separated only by a free bridge spanning the Delaware River. The outcome of the game has such significance to the players, coaches, fans, and residents of each community that nearly all will agree: it is more important to win this game than it is to win a championship.
The first-ever meeting between Phillipsburg and Easton occurred on December 2, 1905. The teams have played nearly every year since, although they did not meet in 1909, 1912, and 1913, and played twice in 1907. The first time they met on Thanksgiving Day was on November 30, 1916. Starting in 1926, all P'burg-Easton games have been played at Lafayette College in Easton. The following games represent some of the most memorable clashes ever witnessed between the two rivals.
2005...17,000 were on hand as P'burg beat Easton 17-0. Photo by Darren Leone.
1942 Phillipsburg 12 Easton 6
The 1942 edition of the Old Grey Mares, as they were known at the time, came into the Thanksgiving Day game with an 8-0-1 record, having shut out their first eight opponents. P'burg failed to score in the first quarter after Paul Leone blocked an Easton punt. But with good field position on their next possession, P'burg cashed in to take a 6-0 lead. In the 2nd quarter, Easton scored to tie it at 6-6 when they returned the favor by blocking a P'burg punt. Late in the 4th quarter, Phillipsburg scored the decisive TD when halfback Mickey Frinzi, who scrambled 13 yards behind the line of scrimmage to the Easton 35-yard line, suddenly spotted end Bill Fegley waving his arms in the back of the end zone. Frinzi's 44-yard pass for the winning score became known as the famous "Frinzi to Fegley" TD pass, one of the most legendary plays in P'burg football history. The 9-0-1 garnet and grey were crowned Big 4 champion and were declared North Jersey co-champion with Bloomfield and East Orange. Frinzi would later coach P'burg from 1968-1972 and then serve as athletic director from 1976-1991.
1955 Phillipsburg 7 Easton 6
The 1955 clash with Easton proved to be one of sweet revenge for Phillipsburg. Easton had sprung one of the biggest upsets in series history the previous year when a Rover team with just 2 wins under its belt brought unbeaten P'burg's season to a crashing end by the exact same score of 7-6. Easton came into the 1955 contest unbeaten for the first time since 1939, and the underdog Liners returned the favor to the Rovers. In front of 20,000 fans, Easton took a 6-0 lead when standout running back Pete Americus ran 22 yards for a 3rd-quarter score. The PAT, however, was blocked by P'burg's Bob Stem. Gene Cowell later recovered an Americus fumble for P'burg at the Rover 33-yard line. After a 17-yard bootleg by P'burg QB Gus Rogers put the ball at Easton's goal line, FB Bill Opdyke scored, and a successful conversion kick gave P'burg a 7-6 lead. With 5 minutes remaining, the Rovers embarked on an 85-yard drive which ended when the clock expired with the ball resting inches from the Stateliner goal line. A 59-yard TD run by Americus earlier in the game had been nullified by a penalty, helping coach Harold Bellis earn his first win ever over Easton.
1960 Phillipsburg 7 Easton 6
The Stateliners prevailed 7-6 before 19,500 in a game in which both teams entered unbeaten. P'burg scored in the first period after recovering a Rover fumble on the Easton 17-yard line. The Stateliners also recorded a first-period goal line stand when Easton RB Joe Creazzo slipped and fell on the P'burg 1-yard line on fourth down. The Rovers closed to within 7-6 in the third period when Mike Weaver returned a punt 60 yards for a TD. However, the point after was unsuccessful. With time running down in the contest, the Rovers drove to the P'burg 7, but a field goal attempt was blocked. The game ended two plays later. This classic matchup of unbeatens, with both lineups dotted with outstanding players, was a tough defensive battle between two of the best teams the schools have
1966 Easton 13 P'burg 6
The Rovers entered the 1966 game as huge favorites, coming into the contest with 7 straight victories after an early season loss to powerful Pennsbury. P'burg had struggled, especially early in the season, and in spite of consecutive wins over Bethlehem Liberty and Allentown Dieruff, came in at 4-4 and needing a victory to salvage a winning season. P'burg took a 6-0 lead after driving 60 yards for a score following Bob Duckworth's recovery of a Rover fumble. The Rovers tied it at 6-6 when Big 33 RB John Cappellano scored on 4th and goal from the Liner one following a P'burg fumble at its own 16 yard line. In the middle of the 4th quarter, the unheralded Liners started out on what appeared to be a possible game-winning drive, spearheaded by the tough running of halfback Buddy Morris.
But after advancing strictly on the ground all the way to the Rover 32, the Stateliners, in an attempt to cross up the Easton defense, attempted a first down pass in the right flat which was intercepted by Rover LB Robin Griffin, who streaked 68 yards down the left sideline to rescue the Rovers. The heartbreaking loss gave P'burg its first losing season since 1940.
1967 Phillipsburg 0 Easton 0
The 1967 game featured a 9-0 Easton team that had won 16 straight games and was ranked #2 in the state. The Stateliners entered at 6-2, losing to #1 East Orange and to winless Bethlehem Liberty in a huge letdown the following week. The 1967 game also marked the last game for legendary coaches Harold Bellis of P'burg and Bob Rute of Easton, who both retired at game's end. The hard-hitting contest, played before 20,000 on a damp, overcast, drizzly day, featured three goal line stands, two by P'burg. The Liners had a chance to win it after blocking a Rover punt and driving to Easton's 2 with only minutes remaining, but a fumble ended the threat. Easton then began a last-
gasped drive to pull out the win and preserve their unbeaten season. After driving to near midfield, the game subsequently ended near the Liner goal line when the Rovers' outstanding all-state RB Bob Pilz was tripped up by P'burg's Don Samson after a long pass and run which allowed the remaining time to expire before the Rovers could line up for another play (the clock did not stop when a first down was achieved). In nine games, this small but extremely quick Stateliner team, ranked #2 in the state when it played #1 East Orange, recorded five shutouts and gave up only a kickoff return for a
TD against Allentown William Allen in a sixth.
A quick P'burg defense came through with 2 goal line stands in shutting out unbeaten Easton in a 0-0 tie in 1967.
1988 Phillipsburg 20 Easton 15
P'burg/Easton clashes are always highly anticipated. But the 1988 game took the anticipation to another level when it was learned the game would be televised by "ESPN" to a national audience. The pre-game hype featured a documentary about the rivalry and the towns themselves, which included interviews with families and fans from both sides of the river. The game itself did not disappoint either. Trailing 15-13, the Stateliners embarked on the game-winning drive with just minutes left behind junior back-up quarterback John Troxell, who replaced injured starter Rich Price. A fourth down completion to wide receiver Kevin DeGerolamo, who made a spectacular over-the-
shoulder diving catch, kept the drive alive. Troxell then hit diminutive wide receiver Lou Moser over the middle for the winning score with just 22 seconds remaining to give P'burg a 20-15 victory. With its dramatic finish, the 1988 game ranks as one of the most exciting ever.
2003 Phillipsburg 26 Easton 23
In 2003, a Phillipsburg team still stinging from a 31-27 loss to an underdog Ridge team in the first round of the state playoffs after leading by as many as 14 points, attempted to redeem itself against an 11-1 Easton team. The Rovers came into the game ranked #1 in the Express-Times area, while the 8-1 Stateliners entered the game ranked #2. A high scoring first half ended with P'burg holding a 26-15 advantage. Phillipsburg's scoring was highlighted by a 76 yard halfback option pass by All-State running back Brandon Mason to wide receiver Tim Penyak. The Rovers crept within 26-23 late in the fourth quarter when running back Brad Piperata scampered 53 yards down the Rover sideline for a
score. Easton then got the ball back with 1:07 left in the game and drove to the Phillipsburg 33 yard line. On 3rd and 1, however, quarterback Luke Carlson overthrew his receiver and safety Tim Penyak made a diving interception with less than 30 seconds remaining to seal the win. This outstanding Phillipsburg team could only lament what could have been, as it stood helplessly by as Ridge shut out its next two opponents to win the North Jersey Section 2 Group 3 state title.
2010 Phillipsburg 3 Easton 0 (OT)
The 2010 Thanksgiving Day clash with Easton provided a hungry 8-2 P'burg team with a golden opportunity for redemption. P'burg entered the season with high hopes for a banner year, but the Liners would suffer two disappointing losses, one to rival Hunterdon Central, and another to Piscataway in the sectional semis, effectively ending their hopes for a 3rd consecutive post-season title. It was apparent from the outset of this game, however, that P'burg was determined to cap this season off with their best effort of the year versus the 11-1 Rovers, who had beaten the Liners four consecutive years, and who would play for the District 2-4-11 sub-regional championship two days later. With snow blanketing the Fisher Stadium field, the Liners dominated the line of scrimmage, holding the potent Rover offense to just 60 total yards, but repeated scoring opportunities were squandered, sending the tight 0-0 game into overtime for the first time in the 104-year history of the series. P'burg won the toss in OT, and elected to start on defense. The Liners smelled victory when 2-way standout Dana Lee, who would win the Offensive MVP Award, picked off Rover QB Justin Pacchioli's fade pass into the corner of the end zone. On their OT possession, the Liners ran the ball two consecutive times into the middle of the line, advancing to the Rover 7, before sending out kicker Anthony Castro for a potential game-winning FG attempt. Castro's school record 11th FG split the uprights, propelling P'burg to a thrilling 3-0 OT win over the Rovers, and sending the Liner sideline into a frenzy. The victory, the 112th in coach Bob Stem's career, would be his last as P'burg mentor, as he announced his retirement one week later, leaving his alma mater as the winningest coach ever in P'burg history.
Stateliners and Rovers brave the elements in P'burg's historic 3-0 OT win over Easton, the first OT game in series history. Photo by Darren Leone.
2014 P'burg 19 Easton 15
The 108th meeting between two of the country's biggest rivals matched up an explosive 12-1 Easton team that had just suffered its first loss of the season vs Parkland in the D11 championship game vs a 9-1 P'burg team that was still alive for a sectional title in the NJ playoffs. Easton had won three in a row over the Liners in a series they had dominated over the past 20 years. For the Liner seniors, the game provided a chance to finally get a win over Easton as well as gain some respect from the Rover fans who felt P'burg played an inferior schedule. The Stateliners jumped out to an early 6-0 lead when they drove for a score behind the power running of their outstanding RB Joe Maso. In the second quarter, P'burg extended its lead to 12-0 when Manny Romero returned a Rover punt deep into Easton territory. Maso brought the ball to the Easton goal line before QB Anthony Guarino snuck it into the end zone.
Easton got back in the game when its star RB Shane Simpson darted through the P'burg defense 43 yards to paydirt to cut the lead to 12-7 at the half. The Rovers scored again in the third quarter on Simpson's 11-yard TD run and 2-point conversion to take a 15-12 lead. But this Stateliner team was not to be denied. Midway through the 4th quarter, WR/DB Stave Friedman fielded a punt at the LIner 30, cut to the outside near the P'burg bench, then received a crushing block by LB Taji Lowe at the Rover 40 which allowed him to scamper 70 yards untouched down the sideline to paydirt to put the Liners up 19-15. From there, the P'burg defense, spectacular all day in holding Easton's potent ground game to just 136 yards rushing, put the clamps on the Rover's offense to preserve P'burg's dramatic victory. The win gave the Liners a chance to become only the second team in P'burg history to win at least 11 games in a season with a victory over Colonia in the N2 G4 title game.
Thanksgiving Day Records
Most yards rushing: 314 Juan Gaddy Easton (1991)
Most rushing TDs: 4 Zolt Stamus P'burg (1932)
Most yards receiving: 141 Ken Slamp Easton (1923)
Most TD receptions: 3 Kim Tophoney P'burg (1997)
Matt Mowad Easton (2012)
Longest rushing TD: 96 yards LeRoy Lear P'burg (1948)
Most yards passing: 235 Glen McNamee P'burg (1991)
Most TD passes: 5 Brad Wilkins Easton (2012)
Longest TD reception/pass: 76 yards Tim Penyak from Brandon Mason P'burg (2003)
Most interceptions: 3 Jarred Holley Easton (2007)
Most coaching victories: 17 Steve Shiffert (Easton 1993-2015)
Thanksgiving Day Individual Awards
1961 MVP Herb Stecker P...1962 MVP Greg Seifert P...1963 MVP Art Armbruster P...1964 MVP Scott
Curzi P...1965 MVP Robbie Miller E...1966 MVP (Tie) Robin Griffin E & Buddy Morris P...1967 MVP
Gary Farmer P...OL Tom Bakley P...1968 MVP Joe Parsons E...OL Gene Ketchen E...1969 MVP Brian
Dominic P..OL (Tie) Dave Miers P & Bob Clymer P...1970 MVP Odell Theadford E...OL Gary Piperata
P...1971 MVP John Patti P...OL Blair Miers P...1972 MVP Mike Miller E...OL Rich Tarlowski P...1973 MVP
Randy Boyer P...OL Monty Lobb P...1974 MVP Bill Heilman E...OL Gary Woodring E...1975 MVP Dave
Stem E...OL Jack O'Donnell E...1976 MVP Steve McNamee P...OL Scott Loudenberry P...1977 MVP Rich
Milburn P...OL Steve Searfoss P...1978 Off MVP Bill Rambo E...Def MVP Bob Moore E...OL Bob Moore E...
1979 Off MVP Mike Troxell E...Def MVP Rob Kilpatrick E...1980 Off MVP Dwayne Thornton E...Def MVP
Glenn Storm E...OL Tim Cummings P...1981 Off MVP Chris Troxell P... Def MVP Kevin Stocker P...OL
Tom Wooley P...1982 Off MVP Bob Siemon P.. Def MVP Jake Williams E...OL Chris Glackin P...1983 Off
MVP Jeff Bronico P...Def MVP Ned Bolcar P.. OL Tom Wilchak P...1984 Off MVP Jim Horvath P...Def MVP
Ned Bolcar P...OL Alan Brewster P...1985 Off MVP Drew Lewis E.. Def MVP Derrick Gilbert E...OL Bob
Pacchioli E...1986 Off MVP Todd Thatcher E...Def MVP Todd Lawrence P...OL Alfie Youtz E...1987 Off
MVP Doug Moyle P...Def MVP John Wean P...OL John Wean P...1988 Off MVP Larrame Furman P...Def
MVP Kevin Kane P...OL Scott Vaughn P...1989 Off MVP Larrame Furman P.. Def MVP Jeff Staton E.. OL
Greg Troxell P...1990 Off MVP Larrame Furman P...Def MVP Len Moser P...OL Len Moser P...1991 Off
MVP Juan Gaddy E...Def MVP Mark Libiano E...OL Jason Swint E...1992 Off MVP Juan Gaddy E...Def MVP
Dean Jones E...OL Joey Jones E...1993 Off MVP Eric Thompson E...Def MVP Bruce Lebitz P...OL Paul
Eisley P...1994 Off MVP Tyrone Randolph E.. Def MVP Chris Shannon E...OL Vince Pretopapa E...1995
Off MVP Brian Piperata E...Def MVP Darren Smith E...OL Jarrett Hosbach P...1996 Off MVP Phil Walker E.
Def MVP Jermaine Williams E...OL Jermaine Williams E...1997 Off MVP Kim Tophoney P...Def MVP Jason
Hutchinson P...OL Zach Miers P...1998 Off MVP Jermaine Moore E...Def MVP Brett Assise E...OL Justin
Williamson E...1999 Off MVP Yah Yah McGurn E...Def MVP Nick Otranto E...OL Dave Williams E...
2000 Off MVP Matt Loebsack E...Def MVP John Taylor E...OL Andrew Kish P...2001 Off MVP Todd
Parsons E...Def MVP Jesse Pelligrino E...OL Chris Graziano E...2002 Off MVP Leonard Brice P...Def MVP
Matt Altemose E...OL Kevin Osifchin P...2003 Off MVP Brandon Mason P...Def MVP Brandon McWilliams E..
OL Joe Ryan P...2004 Off MVP Ovid Goulbourne E...Def MVP Zack Pizzaro E...OL (Tie) Jarred Myers E &
John Navone E...2005 Off MVP Art Wright P...Def MVP Blair Decker P...OL Eric Agnew P...2006 Off MVP
Tamba Dunbar E...Def MVP Keenan Walls E...OL (Tie) Connor Moore E & Colin White E...2007 Off MVP
Gary Fish E...Def MVP Jarred Holley E...OL Ken Cooper E...2008 Off MVP Kyle Harbridge E...Def MVP
Cody Meuser E...OL Ryan Barrick E...2009 Off MVP Justin Pacchioli E...Def MVP Patrick Murphy E...OL
Patrick Murphy E...2010 Off MVP Dana Lee P...Def MVP Sean McNerney P...OL Thomas Vouglas P...
2011 Off MVP Shane Simpson E...Def MVP Tyler Greene E...OL Tyler Greene E 2012 Off MVP Brad
Wilkins E...Def MVP Jarrett Williams P...OL Jarrett Williams P 2013 Off MVP Kyle Bambary E...Def MVP
Justin Weldon E & Kyle Boylan P...OL Justin Weldon E 2014 Off MVP Joe Maso P...Def MVP Nick Tone
E...OL Nick Tone E 2015 Off MVP Nysir Minney-Gratz E...Def MVP Greg Albertson E...OL Robert
P'burg-Easton Hall of Fame
Mike Maloney (Coach 1905-1931) Clayton Willever (1918) Charley Berry (1920) Ted Dailey (1928) George "Sammy" Moyer (1935) Earl "Turk" Reed (1943) Bill Walsh (1944) Mickey Frinzi (1945) Jim Ringo (1948) Russ Dilts (1949) Harold Bellis (Coach 1954-1967) Don "Rich" DeGerolamo (1954) Herb Stecker (1961) Jim Clymer (1979) Ned Bolcar (1984)
Mickey Frinzi, Villanova Hall of Fame
Frank Klein (Coach 1940-1951) Frederick "Sonny" Judson (1942) Ray Mantone (1946) Rich Barbadora (1951) George Hummer (1964)
George Hummer, who later starred at Arizona State
Paul Opdyke (1934) Joe Szombathy (1948) Ed Allen (1953) John Bronico (1960) Tom Allen (1960)
All-State tackle Tom Allen
John Carberry (1932) Gene Gallagher (1945) Charlie Stecker (1963) Mike Ritz (1977) Phil Rohm (Coach 1982-1986, 1998-2004)
All-State end Gene Gallagher
Zolt Stamus (1933) Ed Rush (1947) Jim Dalrymple (1952) Larrame Furman (1990)
Dan Zeigler (1915) Bob Stem (1957) Steve Searfoss (1977) Mike Lelko (1995)
Howard Raub (1918) Willard "Whiz" Rinehart (Coach 1936-1953) John Tersigni (1955)
Greg Troxell (1989)
Joe Dilts (1941) Joe Luke (1994) Brandon Mason (2003)
Jeep Price (1948) Ron Exley (1949) Rich Milburn (1978) Leonard Brice (2002)
Marv Lippincott (1958) Jim Dick (1961) Steve McNamee (1976) Leonard Moore (1994)
Greg Matviak (1958) Brian Dominic (1969) Tom Dominic (Coach 1987-1989) Scott Vaughn (1988)
P'burg-Easton Series History
1905 E 26 P 0 1906 E 47 P 0 1907 E 5 P 0 1907 E 16 P 0 1908 E 11 P 0
1910 P 5 E 0 1911 E 6 P 0 1914 E 7 P 0 1915 E 3 P 0 1916 E 14 P 7
1917 E 35 P 7 1918 P 9 E 0 1919 E 13 P 7 1920 P 14 E 7 1921 E 44 P 7
1922 P 7 E 7 1923 E 31 P 7 1924 E 21 P 0 1925 E 27 P 7 1926 P 6 E 6
1927 E 20 P 13 1928 E 21 P 12 1929 P 13 E 0 1930 E 20 P 7 1931 E 7 P 6
1932 P 26 E 0 1933 P 13 E 0 1934 P 13 E 0 1935 P 24 E 0 1936 E 28 P 0
1937 E 7 P 0 1938 E 12 P 7 1939 E 7 P 0 1940 E 7 P 2 1941 P 7 E 0
1942 P 12 E 6 1943 E 7 P 2 1944 P 0 E 0 1945 P 6 E 0 1946 P 19 E 0
1947 P 31 E 0 1948 P 46 E 0 1949 P 33 E 7 1950 E 20 P 13 1951 E 28 P 13
1952 E 14 P 7 1953 E 14 P 7 1954 E 7 P 6 1955 P 7 E 6 1956 P 18 E 6
1957 E 20 P 7 1958 E 26 P 6 1959 E 21 P 0 1960 P 7 E 6 1961 P 7 E 0
1962 P 9 E 0 1963 P 33 E 6 1964 P 7 E 0 1965 E 13 P 6 1966 E 13 P 6
1967 E 0 P 0 1968 E 20 P 0 1969 P 41 E 8 1970 E 23 P 0 1971 P 8 E 0
1972 P 15 E 13 1973 P 18 E 6 1974 E 10 P 6 1975 E 7 P 0 1976 P 28 E 0
1977 P 7 E 6 1978 E 14 P 7 1979 E 35 P 22 1980 E 14 P 3 1981 P 23 E 0
1982 P 32 E 0 1983 P 14 E 7 1984 P 14 E 12 1985 E 14 P 7 1986 E 20 P 10
1987 P 18 E 10 1988 P 20 E 15 1989 P 21 E 12 1990 P 28 E 0 1991 E 24 P 15
1992 E 29 P 0 1993 E 7 P 7 1994 E 34 P 6 1995 E 25 P 13 1996 E 27 P 7
1997 P 26 E 6 1998 E 34 P 0 1999 E 41 P 7 2000 E 17 P 14 2001 E 28 P 7
2002 P 25 E 0 2003 P 26 E 23 2004 E 31 P 0 2005 P 17 E 0 2006 E 21 P 7
2007 E 17 P 6 2008 E 35 P 14 2009 E 26 P 10 (1993 Replay Game P 27 E 12)
2010 P 3-0 OT 2011 E 24 P 8 2012 E 35 P 18 2013 E 16 P 7 2014 P 19 E 15 2015 E 26 P 0
2016 E 24 P 14
Turkey Day Stuff (ing)
Easton leads the series 63-42-5...The highest attendance for a P'burg-Easton game is 23,000 in 1946...Easton's longest winning streak is 5 (1905-1908, 1936-1940, and & 1950-1954)...P'burg's is also 5 (1945-1949 & 1960-1964)...P'burg won 8 of 9 games from 1981-1990...Easton won 9 of 11 from 1991-2001...The largest margin of victory is 47 for Easton in 1906 (47-0) and 46 for P'burg in 1946 (46-0)...The most points scored in one game is 57 in 1979 when Easton prevailed 35- 22...The fewest points in one game is 0 (teams tied 0-0 in 1944 & 1967)...former P'burg head coach Bob Stem was 6-9 vs Easton...Both schools had unbeaten streaks of 6 games in the series (Easton from 1921-1926 & P'burg from 1944-1949)
GATORADE REPLAY GAME
Ever want to settle an old score? imagine receiving tons of publicity, and, as an added bonus, getting paid to do so.
Gatorade, in a search for the country's most intense scholastic rivalry in any sport, has agreed to sponsor a replay of the 1993 P'burg-Easton Thanksgiving Day game, which ended in a 7-7 tie, at Lafayette College's Fisher Field on April 26, 2009. About 60 members of the P'burg and Easton teams involved in that battle, one of five ties in this historic rivalry spanning more than 100 years, have enthusiastically taken Gatorade up on the challenge, and are eager to participate.
Both schools are scheduled to receive $10,000.00 for participating in the contest, with coaches Bruce Smith of Phillipsburg and Steve Shiffert of Easton, their assistants, and all players receiving $1,000.00 each. As an added bonus to all involved, as well as to interested fans, NFL QBs Eli Manning of the New York Giants and his brother, Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts, have signed on as honorary coaches of the P'burg and Easton teams, respectively.
The replay has already gained national exposure, and fan interest has continued to soar as preparations for the game have progressed. Thirty-man rosters for each team have been announced, and the teams have already begun an 8-week practice regimen, following a 3-day boot camp which ran from Feb 22-Feb 25. Velocity Sports Performance, a sports training company, is providing assistance to the players, helping them with their speed, agility, quickness, balance, and power. And on Wednesday, April 8, both teams received training form Eagles head coach Andy Reid and all-pro RB Brian Westbrook at the Eagles' NovaCare training complex, which was featured on the ESPN show "MIke and Mike in the Morning."
As fan interset and anticipation of the unique event grow, numerous developments have arisen. A possible roadblock over the location of the game due to an existing contract between Coca Cola and Lafayette College has been resolved, cementing Fisher Field as the site of the contest. In addition, the city of Easton has announced plans to hold a huge block party covering several blocks adjacent to Fisher Field on College Hill. Easton is also planning a pep rally and bonfire to be held at the Riverside Barr & Grill north of Easton.
Phillipsburg officials have now announced a pep rally will be held at Il Gaetano Ristorante, formerly known as Guy's Bar, on Saturday, April 25. The bar was one of the most popular gathering spots on Thanksgiving eve for many years in P'burg, drawing large crowds of alumni. The Garnet Booster Club has also announced a pep rally to be held Thursday, April 23 at Flynn's on the Hill. And a "replay buffet" will be offered on Friday, April 24 at the Brass Rail in Lopatcong Township. Other events include a charity event to benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Easton and the Firth Youth Center of Phillipsburg that is being put together by former P'burg QB Rich Millburn and former Easton QB Bill Rambo. Fifty pairs of tickets will be raffled off at two popular locations: at the College Hill Tavern in Easton not far from Fisher Field, and at the Brass Rail in Lopatcong Township. And Quick Chek in Pohatcong Township has announced it will raffle off 3 tickets. With festivities popping up almost daily, the game has caught the interest and imagination of everyone on both sides of the river.
Tickets for the event, which are $10.00 and are all general admission, went on sale at both high schools on Saturday, April 4. According to published reports, all 10,000 tickets were sold out in 90 minutes. A live website has been created to follow the replay game featuring Express-Times articles, updates, photos, and videos. You can log on at
P'burg 27 Easton 12
In a game that captured the imagination of thousands of fans on both sides of the Delaware, P'burg settled the score once and for all in a replay of the 1993 Turkey Day game that ended in a 7-7 tie. QB Keith Kullman threw for 302 yards and 3 TDs, Mike Lelko had 7 receptions for 121 yards (all in the 1st half), and Joe Luke accounted for 236 yards of offense to spark the Liners to a 27-12 win over archrival Easton in the Gatorade Replay Classic at Fisher Stadium on the campus of Lafayette College.
The three skill position players proved to be too much for the Rover defense to handle. Kullman, now a sturdy 6-3, 230, was on target from the outset. He hooked up with Lelko 3 times on the game's opening drive, which was culminated with an 11-yard pass and run play in which Lelko carried several players into the end zone with him. Eric Penyak's kick made it 7-0.
Easton responded with an 85-yard drive capped off by QB Kyle Geiger's 5-yard toss to TE Josh Miller, but the PAT was blocked to make it 7-6.
The Stateliners scored just a few minutes later when Luke snuck out of the backfield to his left, while Kullman rolled to his right. The Liner QB hit a wide-open Luke with a 44-yard strike to open a 14-6 lead.
The Rovers responded less than a minute later when Geiger hit TE Blane Sandt in stride with a perfect strike for a nifty 77-yard TD to make it 14-12. A 2-point extra point try was unsuccessful.
The Liners made it 21-12 at the break when Tyrone Randolph ran 6 yards up the middle at the 5:29 mark.
The second half saw the pace of the action drop off a notch or two in the sweltering heat. P'burg increased its lead to 27-12 when Kullman hit Luke with a bullet on a quick slant pattern, and the Liner standout cut to the outside and outran a defender to complete an 80-yard TD pass and run play.
Easton put together another nice drive, but the threat was thwarted when a fumble near the P'burg goal line was by Justin Lockhart was recovered in the P'burg end zone.
Luke, who played collegiately at Lafayette, was named offensive MVP for his outstanding effort. Kullman was outstanding also, completing 14 for 20 passes for 302 yards.
Stateliner defensive tackle Robert Wargo was named the game's outstanding defensive player with 7 tackles and a sack. He had plenty of help from LB Bruce Lebitz, who led the P'burg defense with 11 tackles, one TFL, and a forced fumble.
Easton received a great effort from QB Kyle Geiger, who hit on 10 of 18 passes for 173 yards and 2 TDs, and ran for 10 yards on 8 carries. The Rovers also got some tough inside running from RB Blaze Clymer, who picked up 97 yards on 14 carries. The Rover D was effective against the run, limiting P'burg to 21 yards on 17 rushing attempts. But they had no answer for the talented trio of Liner skill position players, who proved to be the difference in the game.
Attendance estimates ranged from 13,000 to 16,000, an incredible number for an April replay football game featuring players in their early to mid-thirties who hadn't seen action on the gridiron in nearly 15 years. Overall, the game was a resounding success, and all those involved, including the players, coaches, band members, cheerleaders, administrators, and Gatorade officials are to be commended for this outstanding event.