Saturday, October 17, 2015

Postgame Blog and Video: Nashoba Earns Signature Win at Leominster

The Nashoba offensive line asserted itself Friday night, and quarterback Robby Atwood made every play that was there to be made.
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

Nashoba, it would seem, is back, as the Chieftains scored a massive road win against perennial power Leominster to clinch at least a share of the Mid-Wach A title and grab control of the race for home field advantage in the Division 2 Central playoffs.

Here's your quick reminder that this blog is not a complete recap, only my wandering thoughts on the game, along with some highlights and postgame video reactions from Nashoba coach Jamie Tucker and senior Jake Benjamin.

If you'd like my full story, head on over to ESPN Boston.

Well, let's get on with it.

Nashoba Upsets Leominster from ESPN Boston on Vimeo.

 Like Father, Like Son

So it appears that Nashoba coach Jamie Tucker may be able to fill the large shoes of his father Ken, who retired after the 2012 season. When Ken left the job the Chieftains were only riding a 26-game winning streak and coming off back-to-back Super Bowl wins.

No pressure, son.

Well, the younger Tucker has done just fine, bringing along a young team the past two years that seems to have finally blossomed into a battle-tested, experienced group.

This year's Chieftains are loaded in the trenches on both sides of the ball, thanks to brutal linemen Mike Curtin, Will Phaneuf, Sam Keith, Jake Hicks, Bobby Denaro and others. Many of them play both ways, and they imposed their will and some pretty darn good Leominster linemen Friday, paving the way for over 200 yards of rush offense, and harassing Leominster quarterback Noah Gray all night.

A Gray Lining

Speaking of Gray, he was certainly a standout for Leominster Friday, and his play gives the Blue Devils reason for optimism heading into the season's final weeks and the playoffs.

Despite pressure from the relentless Nashoba front, Gray accounted for all four of Leominster's touchdowns (2 passing, 2 rushing) and kept drives alive after the Blue Devils fell behind the sticks due to penalties.

In many ways, Leominster appeared to be off its game against Nashoba (penalties, turnovers on special teams, a missed field goal), but Gray made sure the Blue Devils were never out of it.

Atwood Gets it Done

Nashoba quarterback Robby Atwood isn't asked to throw it much in Nashoba's run-heavy attack, but he took advantage of his opportunities Friday night, building one of the zaniest stat lines you'll ever see: 3 of 3 passing for 80 yards, with 2 carries for three yards and two touchdowns.

That's like a mixture between Jerome Bettis and Antwaan Randle-El on those early-to-mid 2000s Steelers teams (if any of you kids can remember them… Probably not. I'm old).

Anyways, Atwood came up big with a 45-yard touchdown when it appeared Leominster had taken momentum back in the third quarter, and on Nashoba's go-ahead drive, he completed two passes, one converting a 3rd and six, and the other picking up a 4th and four.

To say that his three passes were critical would be an understatement, and his two touchdown runs by the goal line capped off long drives to start and end the game.

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