|VIDEO: Paramus Catholic surges past St. Peter's for state title|
Paramus Catholic was a big question mark entering the 2016 football season. But the Paladins finished off the year with a giant exclamation point.
Coming from behind at halftime, Paramus Catholic surged to a 33-28 win over St. Peter's Prep to win the Non-Public Group IV state championship at MetLife Stadium. It's the third state title in five years for the Paladins.
Paramus Catholic scored 26 straight points to turn a seven-point deficit into a 33-14 lead. Then the Paladins had to survive a late surge by St. Peter's to pull out the win.
Three different Paramus Catholic players ran for over 100 yards in an offensive explosion. Alijah Jackson had 127 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while quarterback Andrew Brito ran for 126 yards and a score. Jonathan Clark was the leading rusher for the Paladins with 130 yards, including a touchdown.
Brito also threw for 106 yards on 7-of-13 passing, with a touchdown toss to Matthew Zelaya. In the final minutes, Brito found Zelaya again for a critical first down that helped the Paladins run out the clock.
The story for St. Peter's was Rutgers-bound quarterback Johnathan Lewis, who ran for 156 yards and all four Marauder touchdowns. Lewis also threw for 145 yards and caught a 21-yard pass.
Dakari Falconer added 100 rushing yards. Jorge Portorreal had 59 receiving yards and Shayne Simon notched 52. But the Marauders had three drives falter in the Paramus Catholic red zone, a critical difference in this tight game.
St. Peter's ends the season at 8-4.
Paramus Catholic missed the state playoffs last year and lost one of the nation's top recruits, Rashan Gary, to graduation. But these lesser-known and somewhat undersized Paladins went 10-2 and brought home the Non-Public Group IV championship trophy.
For sports video highlights of this New Jersey high school football state playoffs championship final, click play in the box at left.