Pretty eventful night in Central Mass. football. Oakmont snaps Tantasqua’s winning streak, Leominster survives a Doherty team that’s getting back on track, Nashoba fends off Clinton and Auburn and Northbridge roll. Let’s take a look at how things shook out.
Nashoba 9, Clinton 0
Throw the enrollment out the window, it’s another great game between these two rivals.
Nashoba scored a touchdown and a safety in the first quarter and held on for the win.
“Scoring early was important,” Nashoba coach Ken Tucker said. “We knew we had a size advantage and we thought we’d have the ability to run right at them and throw it better than we did, and early in the game were able to. But later in the game, we weren’t able to do that. So the touchdown and safety were huge, and gave us a cushion. But Clinton played a great game defensively.”
“We had trouble moving the ball and I think our total yardage at halftime was almost nonexistent,” Clinton coach Paul Constantino said. “Nashoba deserves credit. They were quick to the ball and bigger physically. But we played better offensively in the second half. And there were a lot of positives to take out of it — things that we can use to learn and grow.”
Auburn 40, Grafton 7
I was talking to Auburn coach Jeff Cormier after last week’s win over Shrewsbury and he said even though they won, the Rockets had a lot of work to do. Well, it looks like they fixed the problems.
Auburn’s defense is one of the best around. In any division. Consistently. Period. The Rockets proved it tonight by smacking Grafton in the mouth. Auburn caused turnovers on the Indians’ first four possessions and scored on each one of them to put this one away early.
“I think my defensive coaches — Sean Sullivan, Dana Giampa and Mark Grady — did a great job preparing our guys for the double-wing,” Cormier said. “It’s a tough offense to defend, especially when one of the best coaches in Central Mass. (Mike Ross) is running it.”
Brendan VanBeekom scored three touchdowns as the Rockets defense said to the double-wing offense, “You can run all you want, but it won’t matter if you can’t hold onto the ball.”
“Going for the ball, stripping it, getting a helmet on it, is something we always work on in practice,” Cormier said. “One of the things we try to do every game is win the turnover battle. The defense set our offense up in good field position, and then our offensive line played with a bit of an attitude and got our running game going.”
Grafton has to look at this game as a blip on the radar and concentrate on getting better for the start of the league race. The Rockets are going to do that to a lot of teams before the season is over.
Leominster 21, Doherty 15
This is why I’ve been talking up Leominster and new QB Curtis Ludden all season.
Ludden rushed for 84 yards and two touchdowns and threw for 49 more to lead the Blue Devils.
It was almost a Doherty win, as Leominster was stuffed at their own 43 with 2:39 left. The Highlanders made a move, as QB Tim Bushey hit Yawin Smallwood for a 20-yard gain, but then was sacked for a 12-yard loss on the next play. He rebounded and hit Andre Santana for a 35-yard score on the next play with 1:38 left. The extra point was blocked by Kevin O’Conner, but kicker Manny Baiddo picked up the loose ball and scooted in for the two points.
“We went to a no-huddle and we were able to move the football,” Doherty assistant coach Steve Bucciaglia said. “We have to continue to work on our pass protection and passing game.”
Doherty tried an onside kick, but while Smallwood and Ludden fought for it, the Blue Devils emerged with the ball and ran out the clock.
“Curtis played great,” Leominster coach John Dubzinski said. “He’s an athlete. He’s a sure winner. He played a great game in all three phases — offense, defense and special teams. He’s done a good job and this is really the first time he started for us.”
Oakmont 49, Tantasqua 14
The streak had to end sometime, and the Spartans made a big statement by being the ones to do it.
Call them a Division 1 team if you want, but I think Oakmont is for real this year. They have an amazing offense that’s going to put quite a few points on the board this year – 97 in two games.
Seth Sheridan scored three times for Oakmont, including a 59-yard punt return. I said it in the preseason, if he gets a seam, the sprinter is not going to be caught.
Tantasqua, which hadn’t lost since Thanksgiving Day 2007, turned the ball too much to keep up with Oakmont.
“We scored right away, and that was the key,” Oakmont coach Dave LaRoche said, pleased with his team’s early success.
Fitchburg 41, North Middlesex 14
Last week Fitchburg eeked out a win against Nashoba, this week they seem to have worked out the kinks.
“I was happy in all three phases,” Fitchburg coach Ray Cosenza said. “Last week, we played well defensively (an 8-7 win at Nashoba Regional). I thought our special teams were great tonight and our offense and defense. So when you can put it all together like that, it’s awesome this early in the season.”
Fitchburg punted on its first drive of the game, but the offense scored on its next four possessions to put the game away at halftime.
“Against a good team, you can make no mistakes, and they out-executed us and did a great job in the first half against us,” North Middlesex coach Sandy Ruggles said.
From correspondent Chad Garner:
Fitchburg outgained the Patriots in the first half, 268-57, and for the game, 375-178.
The Red Raiders, led by quarterback Kyle Phillips (4 for 7, 89 yards, two TDs) and tailback Byron Teague (13 carries, 123 yards, two TDs), couldn’t be stopped after their opening possession.
Fitchburg needed a win like this to get confidence in a young team and showcase Teague and Phillips as key offensive cogs.
Shepherd Hill 26, Gardner 21
The Rams are getting better, folks.
Shepherd Hill lost a two-touchdown lead, but rallied to beat the Wildcats at Watkins Field when Jamie Gilren scored with 27 seconds left.
Senior Brett Anctil had 157 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns. Junior Evin Jean-Guillaume gained 100 yards with a TD on 15 attempts.
“It’s a young football team, but they’ve come a long way,” Shepherd Hill coach Chris Lindstrom said. “They’ve worked really hard. Gardner had the game and give credit to them, but our guys showed me something tonight. Both teams played very hard.”
“They were able to the move the ball up and down the field on us,” Gardner coach Walt Dubzinski said. “We had a tough time tackling them. They basically drove the ball down our throats tonight. It’s a disappointing loss because we come back and take the lead but their kids come back and score and win. We just didn’t hold them at anytime tonight.”
Here’s a look at some of the other action and highlights.
Oxford 21, Quabbin 0
Junior quarterback Jeff Bolio was 6 of 10 passing for 120 yards and a touchdown, junior outside linebacker Dan Klein had four of his team’s 11 sacks, and the host Pirates (1-1) snapped a 17-game losing streak, winning for the first time since Oct. 12, 2007.
Bolio also ran for a 1-yard TD.
“It was nice to see us get a win tonight,” first-year Oxford coach Jeff Parcells said. “We were able to score three times in the first half and, with the defense pitching a shutout at halftime, we felt very comfortable.”
Junior Nick Tessier had 10 carries for 86 yards, including a 30-yard TD, for Oxford, which saw kicker Anthony Santos connect on all three PATs.
Bartlett 39, Millbury 20
Quarterback Donovan Biron threw for 265 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Indians (1-1) past the host Woolies (0-2).
Wide receiver Justin Sundara had 10 catches for 155 yards and four touchdowns for Bartlett. The Indians’ defense forced five turnovers — three interceptions and two fumbles.
Running back Brandon Richard led Millbury with 17 carries for 100 yards and two touchdowns.
Groton-Dunstable 35, West Boylston 14
Senior Dan Eipp had a career day on his birthday, rushing for 161 yards and three touchdowns for the visiting Crusaders (2-0) in a win over the Lions (0-2). Shane Penney had 64 all-purpose yards (38 rushing, 26 receiving) and ran for a touchdown for Groton-Dunstable.
Ryan Romich had an interception in the second quarter and Penney had five tackles for the Crusaders.
Rob Lombardi and Josh Igwenagu each had a 70-yard-plus touchdown runs for West Boylston.
Keefe Tech 31, St. Clement’s 12
Running backs DeShawn Williams and C.J. Cosme combined for 228 yards and four touchdowns for the Broncos (1-1) in a win over St. Clement’s (1-1) in Framingham.
Fullback Matt Rivers had 10 carries for 50 yards and a touchdown for Keefe Tech.
Ian Commerford and Jose Campos led the Broncos’ defense.
Murdock 7, Lunenburg 0
Jake Hunt ran for a 17-yard touchdown with 10:18 left in the fourth quarter to lead the Blue Devils (1-1) over the Blue Knights (0-2) in Lunenburg.
Southbridge 31, North 10
Junior Jose Rosario rushed for 131 yards on 15 carries and scored a touchdown for the Pioneers (1-1) in a win over the Polar Bears (0-2) in Worcester. Senior Hashian Rosario added two touchdowns and 57 yards rushing for Southbridge.
Junior Josh McNeil completed 3 of 6 passes for 85 yards, including a 60-yard TD to Leo Ortega. Hashian Rosario, Chad Lazo and Alex Lapage were standouts on defense for Southbridge.
Senior Emmanuel Tarwoe had 11 carries for 115 yards and North’s only touchdown.
Northbridge 35, Leicester 7
Junior quarterback Thomas Murphy was 12 of 20 passing for 155 yards and two touchdowns, and rushed seven times for 100 yards and a touchdown, as the visiting Rams (2-0) upended the Wolverines (1-1).
Senior Casey Hippert had six catches for 78 yards and a touchdown, and sophomore Evan Mackintosh had two catches for 33 yards and a touchdown for Northbridge.
Junior Trevor Choruzek rushed for 62 yards, including a 48-yard touchdown, on 14 carries for Leicester.
St. Bernard’s 20, Narragansett 14
Quarterback Taylor Lively completed 6 of 11 passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Bernardians (1-1) past the host Warriors (0-2).
Lively and wide receiver Brendon Jean-Simon (125 yards) connected on scores of 58 and 53 yards.
Running back Evan Brideau rushed 19 times for 111 yards for St. Bernard’s.
Jeremiah Stancombe was 6 for 14 for 77 yards, including a 27-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Laraba, and Cody Savoy had six carries for 52 yards for Narragansett.
Uxbridge 42, Monty Tech 8
Senior Tyler Wisserkerke returned the opening kickoff 76 yards for a touchdown to propel the Spartans (2-0) over the host Bulldogs (0-2) in Fitchburg.
Receiver Scott Nye had three catches for 105 yards and three touchdowns.
Dan Tessier was 5 of 13 passing for 136 yards for Uxbridge.
Senior linebacker Justin Rowe had two interceptions, including a 35-yard return for a touchdown in the third quarter to close the scoring.