Brown Directs Overbrook To Title Td Pass Lifts Rams In Group 4

Posted: December 07, 1998

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — The play that netted a Group 4 South Jersey football title for Overbrook and capped the school's first perfect season since 1966 was all improvisation. In other words, it was vintage Byron Brown.

Brown threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Jon Scialabba with 27 seconds remaining yesterday as Overbrook beat resilient Shawnee, 21-14, in a spine-tingling game at Rutgers Stadium.

The Rams' sectional title was the first by a Camden County school since Overbrook won a Group 4 title in 1990.

``I feel like saying, `That's it, I'm done.' How can it get any better than this?'' Overbrook coach Harvey Miller said. ``It's unbelievable that we could win all 12 games. I never would have thought this at the beginning of the season.''

That it happened can in large part be attributed to the transcendent talents of Brown, who recorded 174 total yards of offense and completed four consecutive passes during the game's tensest moments.

After Shawnee had tied the score, 14-14, on a Mike Connelly touchdown run with a little more than four minutes to play, Brown calmly led the Rams on a 72-yard game-winning touchdown drive to confirm the caliber of the team.

And his.

Brown's scrambling set up several dump passes that pushed Overbrook into Shawnee territory. With Miller just hoping the Rams could get close enough for a potential game-winning field goal by Jamison Young (155 rushing yards and five tackles for losses in a spectacular effort), Brown hit Scialabba on a play that didn't look anything close to what had been drawn up in the huddle.

Brown was supposed to roll right, but instead went left. And Scialabba, a designated decoy who was supposed to run to the right corner of the end zone, instead broke off his pattern when he saw that the middle of the field was wide open.

With several Shawnee defenders bearing down on him, Brown stopped and threw the ball on a line. Scialabba made the catch near the left hash mark and hung on after getting drilled by Connelly.

``[Brown]) fumbles sometimes, but we never yell at him,'' Miller said, ``because we know he's going to make something happen.''

Because of Brown's heroics, the Renegades (8-4), ranked No. 4 in South Jersey by The Inquirer, again left a Group 4 title game empty-handed. But Shawnee had no reason to hang its head after dropping its third sectional final in four years.

The Renegades rallied from a 14-0 deficit and very nearly took No. 1 Overbrook to overtime.

Trailing by 14-0 in the second quarter and going nowhere offensively - the Renegades had 20 total yards and one first down in the first half - Shawnee got a huge punt return from Joe Phillips and a little help from the referees to get back into the game.

Phillips' touchdown on a 79-yard punt return cut Overbrook's 14-0 lead in half, and a blown call by the referees prevented Overbrook from hiking the lead to 21-7. On the last play of the half, backup quarterback Charlie Bupp hit Andre Canty in the back of the end zone for what appeared to be a 36-yard touchdown.

Officials ruled that Canty caught the ball out of bounds. However, replays showed that the Rams' senior clearly got the one foot inbounds as required in high school.

In the second half, the game settled into a defensive struggle. Shawnee broke through for the tying score thanks in large part to a gutsy fake punt that caught Overbrook napping.

A 23-yard pass from punter Ryan Lamb to back Sean McDowel prolonged a 14-play drive that culminated in Connelly's 15-yard scoring run.

But that only set the stage for Brown.

``That's a great football team,'' Shawnee coach Tim Gushue said. ``They deserve to be 12-0. I don't feel like we could have played any harder. I don't feel like we lost. I feel like we were beaten.''

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