One of the top scholastic wide receivers in the country, Justin Shorter drew a chant from the home crowd of “overrated” the first time he touched the ball on Friday night.

Shorter quickly silenced the Old Bridge faithful, scoring on receptions of 12 and 52 yards the next two times the pigskin landed in his hands as the Penn State University commit sparked the South Brunswick High School football team to a two-touchdown first-quarter lead it would not relinquish on the way to a 35-6 season-opening victory.

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“I think that’s part of the burden of being Justin Shorter,” said South Brunswick head coach Joe Goerge, noting he knew the Old Bridge student section had no malice in its hearts while razzing his star player.

“I think that fans – and not in a mean kind of way – this is just what they are going to do. You know, kids today, they cheer that ‘underrated.’ But I think he silenced them in the first half and then in the third quarter he might have put the icing on the cake for us.”

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The icing on the cake to which Goerge referred was Shorter’s brilliant 77-yard touchdown run on South Brunswick’s second series after intermission that gave the Vikings a 29-6 lead with 10:38 remaining in the third quarter.

Shorter took a pitch right, raced about seven yards upfield near the right sideline before cutting back to the middle of the field, where he turned on the afterburners and displayed his second-level speed, outracing several defenders on the way to the end zone.

“It was a great game for my team,” said Shorter, deflecting attention from the 165 all-purpose yards he racked up including 65 through the air and 100 on the ground. “We’ve been working all summer basically just for Old Bridge. To come out here and beat them as one team, it was awesome.”

Less than a minute after quarterback Felix Quinones connected with Shorter on the second scoring strike that gave the Vikings a 15-0 lead, the South Brunswick signal caller, who doubles as a cornerback, jumped a route to intercept counterpart Anthony Imbimbo and returned the pick 38 yards for a back-breaking touchdown.

Quinones, a converted wide receiver who succeeded two-year starter Josh Liao, rushed for 70 yards and passed for 74 more.

“Right now, Felix is probably running the option better than any quarterback we’ve had, even Josh,” Goerge said. “No disrespect to Josh. Josh was a great player for us. But Felix is really taking charge on the option. He’s able to run. He’s able to pitch and he does it in a calm kind of way. He’s elusive.”

As well as South Brunswick was playing, the Vikings could not take the partisan overflow crowd out of the game, but got a little help from Mother Nature when a torrential downpour dispersed spectators on both sides, leaving a once full stadium half empty at the start of the third quarter.

Old Bridge, which has a “Theme Knight” for each of its home games, was celebrating “Holiday Knight,” using the occasion as a toy drive for pediatric patients at Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital and at The Children’s Hospital at Saint Peter’s University Hospital.

The festivities included holiday decorations throughout the stadium, a snow-making machine at the entrance, a live reindeer, hundreds of purple Santa hats for Old Bridge students, holiday music from the Old Bridge band and a huge box truck which generous spectators from both school communities filled with donated toys for the hospitalized children.

Old Bridge, whose triple option is essentially a mirror image of South Brunswick’s offense, was less successful as the Knights were limited to 187 yards on the ground.

The Knights attempted just one pass, and it fell incomplete. Fifty of the team’s yards came on a run from Tyler Haughney, who scored three plays later on a 14-yard run that closed South Brunswick’s lead to 22-6 early in the second quarter.

“Mainly it was that one drive,” Goerge said about the bulk of the offense Old Bridge generated. “The kids did a great job (defensively). It was option against option. I think our kids were ready. We ran to the ball. We did some good things. With kids going both ways, I thought our stamina was good in the second half.”

Dylan Krisz closed out the scoring with a 4-yard run midway through the fourth quarter. He was one of eight backs who carried the ball before backups took the field in the game’s closing minutes. South Brunswick finished with 350 yards of offense.

“We’ve just been working all summer for this game,” Quinones said, noting that he benefitted from playing alongside Liao the past two seasons. “Josh taught me a lot as a captain of this team and how to lead them, so I had that under my belt. I had to lead my boys and I couldn’t have done it without them. Me and Justin are always working together. He makes me better.”

Shorter racked up most of his yards after the catch, including his 35-yard scoring grab, which was actually a backwards pass, thrown about three yards behind the line of scrimmage. He dazzled on multiple occasions with his speed and athleticism.

“This is what Justin is capable of doing,” Goerge said. “He makes big plays out of plays that should be average at best. He’s a special player.”

One of the nations’s top receivers proved he is certainly far from underrated.