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A Student’s Perspective: Cherokee wins 12th sectional title in school history with double OT win

Updated: Nov 12, 2023

D2 Sports Network's latest series, "A Student's Perspective," offers an inside look at a sideline reporting standpoint from the eyes of a high school student. This week, Jacob Girnius, a student at Cherokee High School, provides his thoughts on Friday's South Jersey Group 5 final between Marlboro and Cherokee at William H. Foltz Stadium in Marlton, New Jersey.

Cherokee quarterback Ryan Bender (12) leaps over a defender in the football game played against Marlboro at Cherokee's William H. Foltz Stadium in Marlton, New Jersey on Friday, November 10, 2023. Max Milligan for D2 Sports Network

This intense matchup pitted the top-seeded Cherokee Chiefs against the Marlboro Mustangs in the South Jersey Group 5 final. The announcers delivered their introductions, the "Star Spangled Banner" was played, and the coin toss ensued. Cherokee won the flip and chose to defer until the second half.

The opening kickoff ball was booted from Chiefs kicker Tommy Pajic. A fly over by the New Jersey State Police followed in their state of the art helicopter. Fans on both sides of the stadium went ballistic as Marlboro tried to make something happen on the opening drive, but the result was a four-and-out. The ball changed hands multiple times as the first quarter went completely scoreless. The most notable play of the quarter was an interception by Marlboro junior Luke Houston.

A field goal late in the second quarter by Pajic put Cherokee up 3-0 with just 14 seconds left in the opening half.

Marlboro kicked off second half and quickly pushed the Chiefs' offense off the field. Marlboro marched down the field on its next drive and capitalized as kicker Luke Rubin placed the football between the uprights for Mustangs' first points of the game. The score was tied 3-3.

Cherokee regained possession and almost imitated Marlboro's previous drive. Pajic booted his second field goal of the night through the uprights to give Cherokee a 6-3 lead. Pajic brought the crowd to its feet as Cherokee's only scorer at this point. game, Fans showed their appreciation for him as "TOMMY PAJIC" chants erupted from the bleachers following the second field goal.

Fast forward to the fourth quarter.

Time flew by and Marlboro still trailed by three points. With just over a minute and a half left in regulation, the Mustangs had possession in the red zone. They found themselves facing fourth down only three yards shy of the end zone. Rubin lined up and drilled the kick through the uprights to tie the the contest at 6-6 and send the game to overtime.

Cherokee took the first overtime possession and made a statement.

Senior Trent Osborn caught a touchdown pass in the end zone to help give the Chiefs a 13-6 lead.

Cherokee's Trent Osborn (10) celebrates after he scores the first touchdown of the game at William H. Foltz Stadium in Marlton, New Jersey on Friday, November 10, 2023. Joshua Guirguis /D2 Sports Network

This wasn't the end for Marlboro.

The Mustangs' offense came on to the field and senior running back Matt Cassidy found the end zone to tie the contest at 13-13.

The Mustangs' offense quickly discussed their strategy and took the field again. The Chiefs' defense responded with a pivotal, game-changing stop.

Cherokee's standout running back Murad Campfield ran in the game-winning touchdown. The Chiefs held on for a 19-13 win to capture the South Jersey Group 5 title. The Cherokee student section quickly exploded with screams and chants following the touchdown run by Campfield.

"We're going to take tomorrow to celebrate the win," Campbell said. "Then it's right back to work on Monday."

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