Debray Tavarez caught a 22-yard touchdown pass from Sergio Rodriguez on the final play of the game, giving North Bergen a 14-13 victory over Montclair to capture the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 1, Group IV state championship at MetLife Stadium Saturday afternoon.
The win enabled long-time North Bergen head coach Vince Ascolese to go off into retirement as a state champion. It was the seventh state title for Ascolese as head coach of North Bergen and the first since 1997. Ascolese announced a few weeks ago that this would be the final year of his storied 50-year career and the thrilling upset is more than a fitting way for the legendary coach to walk away.
The Bruins got the last chance in the closing minutes, drove to the Montclair 24-yard line and with a sense of mind, Rodriguez spiked the ball with one second remaining, giving the Bruins the final shot.
Rodriguez then threw his final pass into the end zone, where Tavarez somehow avoided triple coverage to come down with the catch, setting off complete pandemonium.
The Bruins won their two other state playoff games this season in overtime and earned the state title on the final play of the game. A truly amazing story.
To read more about the game, make sure to get Jim Hague's Scoreboard column, as well as coverage in the North Bergen Reporter, on the historic event. -- Jim Hague