Friday, September 23, 2016

Leominster Suffers First Loss of the Season Against Powerful BC High

It was a long day for Noah Gray against BC High's talented defensive front.
By Jason Siegel

The Leominster Blue Devils were shut out 36-0 at Boston College High School in an out of region contest with the Eagles Friday night.

Despite the loss, Leominster (2-1, 2-1 Mid-Wach A) head coach Dave Palazzi said that playing against a team like BC High (2-0, 0-0 Catholic Conference) was a valuable learning experience for the Blue Devils.

“We wanted to come out here and play teams like BC High, and these other Eastern Mass teams that are very strong and very good. I think it’s a good test for us, and we just need to build off of it,” said Palazzi.

Continue reading below for the full recap, and video highlights.

BC High Handles Leominster from ESPN Boston on Vimeo.

Leominster’s defense started the game off well for the Blue Devils. They forced a four-and-out against a team that had scored 61 points two weeks ago in a win over Andover.

Leominster’s offense did not fare any better than BC High’s offense on their first drive. Noah Gray’s first three passes fell incomplete, and the Blue Devils punted on fourth-and-ten.

On BC High’s second drive, the dynamic duo of senior quarterback Connor Cady and junior running back Danny Abraham led the Eagles methodically down the field. The drive culminated with a 7-yard touchdown pass on third-and-goal from Cady to senior T.J. Rothmann.

The Eagles faked the PAT kick, and holder/backup quarterback Matt Sullivan found Rothmann in the end zone. The touchdown and two-point conversion gave BC High and 8-0 lead it would not relinquish.

The Blue Devils transitioned from the passing game to the running game on their next possession. Three runs up the middle by senior running back Anthony Dandini were not enough to move the chains, and the Eagles took over on downs.

BC High wasted no time adding to their lead. On the first play of the drive, Cady flew by the Blue Devil defense for a 40-yard touchdown run. The PAT Kick by Jarod Mockus gave BC High a 15-0 lead with 2:47 left in the first quarter.

Leominster utilized the passing game and the running game early in the next drive. A 9-yard run up the middle by Noah Gray followed by a 13-yard reception by Allen Link moved the chains.

After a false start and an incomplete pass, BC High’s defense put pressure on Noah Gray and forced him out of the pocket on the next two plays. The Blue Devils were forced to punt on fourth-and-fifteen.

BC High’s offense continued to move the ball down the field. However, Leominster’s defense stepped up in the red zone.

On first-and-ten for BC High on the Leominster 11-yard line, Anthony Dandini tackled Eagles star running back Danny Abraham in the backfield for a four-yard loss. On the next play, Junior lineman Cristian Nunez brought down Danny Abraham seven yards behind the line of scrimmage.

After two incomplete passes, Leominster took over on downs.

The BC High defense responded, forcing another Leominster four-and-out.

The Leominster defense kept the Blue Devils in the game for the remainder of the first half. Noah Gray intercepted Cady twice as the first half ended with BC High leading 15-0.

Travis Storm returned the second-half kickoff 37 yards, but the aggressive BC High defensive line continued to put Noah Gray under duress. Four plays later, the Blue Devils punted.

Cady added another play to his highlight reel when he scampered down the left sideline, cut back across the middle, and avoided the Blue Devil defenders en route to a 37-yard touchdown run. Mockus’ extra point made the BC High lead 22-0.

BC High’s defensive line continued its relentless pursuit of Noah Gray, who was sacked twice during Leominster’s ensuing offensive series.

Runs by Danny Abraham measuring 25 yards, 5 yards, and 22 yards set the Eagles up with first-and-goal on the Leominster 1-yard line. Rothmann then scored his second touchdown of the day (one receiving, one rushing) to give BC High a 29-0 lead.

Junior quarterback Matt Sullivan got his chance to play for the Eagles with the game out of reach, and scored on a 70-yard run with 5:40 remaining in the fourth quarter, giving BC High a 36-0 lead.

Coach Dave Palazzi removed Duke-bound Noah Gray from quarterback in the fourth quarter to prevent injury. Gray did remain in the game as a defensive back.

“I really wanted to get the younger kids in. The game was out of reach, so why keep him in there… The younger kids got some work in there, so that was good,” Palazzi said.

“Noah had two interceptions on defense, he played a good game,” Palazzi added.

Leominster will now look ahead to playing teams within its league, beginning with undefeated Wachusett next Friday night in Leominster’s home opener.

“They always play us tough, and they’re going to be ready to go… We’ve got a lot of work to do to get ready,” Coach Palazzi said of his team’s upcoming game against the Mountaineers.

Boston College High School will look to keep their offense in high gear next Friday night when they visit Brockton.

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