Sunday, October 23, 2016

Algonquin Clinches Playoff Spot With Upset of Wachusett

By Jason Siegel

NORTHBOROUGH, Mass. - The Algonquin Tomahawks dominated the Wachusett Mountaineers in all three phases of the game en route to a 21-6 victory Sunday.

Friday night’s rain and lightning forced the two teams to postpone their game until Sunday.

By handing Wachusett (6-1, 3-1 Mid-Wach A) its first loss of the season, Algonquin (5-2, 3-2 Mid-Wach A) also clinched a spot in the Division 2 playoffs.

The Tomahawks dominated the Mountaineers from the opening kickoff. After its energetic defensive line stuffed Wachusett on three running plays to force a three-and-out, Algonquin’s special teams came up with the biggest play of the game.

Algonquin blocked a Wachusett punt attempt, and junior running back and kicker Johnny Polymeros picked up the pigskin and returned it for a touchdown with 8:53 remaining in the first quarter. Polymeros made the extra point, giving Algonquin a 7-0 lead it would not relinquish.

“For us, to find a way to come out and start the game that way, with the scoop-n-score, which is something we worked on a lot in practice," Algonquin head coach Justin McKay said. "We were pretty lucky, in a sense, to get that."

The Mountaineers responded well to the blocked punt. Aided by two Tomahawk penalties, Wachusett moved the ball methodically down the field. The drive culminated with a 7-yard touchdown run by Josh Furtado. The missed extra point allowed Algonquin to maintain a 7-6 lead with 6:30 remaining in the first quarter.

The two teams traded punts as the second quarter began.

On Algonquin’s first possession of the second quarter, they began to find a rhythm. Senior quarterback Ryan Barry connected with Brett Sherman on a 12-yard pass on third-and-nine to keep the drive alive.

Runs by senior running back Max Cerasoli of 12 yards and 19 yards gave Algonquin a first down on the Wachusett 31-yard line.

Four plays later, senior Alec Looby scored for 11 yards out. Polymeros’ extra point made the Algonquin advantage 14-6.

The Tomahawk defense stepped up at the end of the second quarter. Senior captain Jack Gerulskis dropped Wachusett’s Sam Brewer five yards behind the line of scrimmage on a third-and-one from the 50-yard line with 1:08 left in the first half.

Algonquin’s offensive line came out blocking in the second half. Cerasoli, Looby and Barry carried the football behind their aggressive offensive front. Senior Marcus Ellis capped off the opening drive of the second half with a 5-yard touchdown run. Polymeros’ extra point gave Algonquin a 21-6 lead with 6:00 remaining in the third quarter.

“(The offensive line) came out and played a pretty good game against one of the best defenses in the state, and Max (Cerasoli) is a gamer for us,” Coach McKay said of his offense.

Algonquin’s defense continue to stymie the Mountaineers, who could not find a rhythm offensively. Seniors Brett Sherman and Colin Robinson stuffed Furtado, stopping him one yard shy of a first down on fourth-and-three.

The Mountaineers would not go down without a fight. On Wachusett’s first drive of the fourth period, quarterback Mike Fiorelli found Liam Griffin on a post route for a 42-yard pickup.

Algonquin’s defense responded swiftly. Robinson sacked Fiorelli, then Fiorelli was intercepted on the next play by Sherman.

Algonquin’s schedule does not get any easier, as they host St. John’s (Shrewsbury) next Friday night at 7:00 PM.

Wachusett will look to return to winning ways as they prepare for the playoffs in their upcoming home game against Groton-Dunstable next Friday night at 7:00 PM

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