Manalapan High School's unbeaten football team took 11 straight wins into Saturday night's Group V sectional title game but fell short of the championship, losing to South Brunswick, 33-22.
It was the first state football title in South Brunwick High School's history. The Vikings were powered by the efforts of Dahrae Ford, who was a workhorse for SBHS all night in a game played at Rutgers University.
Ford scored three touchdowns, including an 8-yard run late in the fourth to ice the game for South Brunswick.
After jumping out to a quick 6-0 lead, Dontae Strickland made it 13-0 on a 68-yard touchdown pass from T.J. Perkowski. Manalapan answered to make it 13-6 in the second, before Ford scored his first touchdown of the night.
Manalapan answered back with 10 unanswered points to close the gap and send the game into halftime at 20-16, thanks to three South Brunswick turnovers in the first half.
The third quarter was scoreless as SBHS came out in the fourth and Ford got to work. He scored on a 28-yard touchdown with 10:48 left in the game. Manalapan came back with another touchdown to make it 27-22 with just over seven minutes to go. Ford finished with 21 carries for 129 yards.
But with history staring them in the face, the Vikings would not be denied. Ford carried the load once again for South Brunswick with a scoring run to make it 33-22 late in the fourth for the first sectional title in SBHS history.