Saturday, October 22, 2016

Xaverian's Defense Masters the Elements & BC High

It may have taken two days, but Brown commit linebacker A.J. Ryan and the Hawks pitched a shutout against rival BC High.
By Matt Feld (@mattyfeld612)

WESTWOOD, Mass. –Pick any day, or even any two days, and the Xaverian defense is guaranteed to show up, ready to go.

In a game that spanned both Friday and Saturday, due to lightning that paused the game late in the third quarter on Friday evening, the Hawk’s defense never let up, surrendering just 113 yards from scrimmage and three first touchdowns in a 17-0 win over Catholic Conference rival BC High (4-2).

With the win, Xaverian (6-1) clinches the top spot in Division 1 South.

Xaverian coach Charlie Stevenson said the team’s success all comes from its defense.

“The last four weeks I think we have only given up one touchdown and we have played some pretty good teams,” said Stevenson. “Obviously, the focus here is on stopping their running back (Danny Abraham), and we did a really good job of that.”

Early on both teams were focused on the time of the possession battle and rightfully so. The torrential rain, mixed in with gale force winds that usually make themselves known at the Hawk Bowl, made moving the ball through the air almost impossible during the opening quarter. Over the course of the game's first five drives, Xaverian and BC High tallied a total of just one pass play and one first down.

On Xaverian’s fourth drive of the game, they not only moved the chains for the first time, but they also struck first.

A one-yard quarterback sneak by Mattison Cronin combined with a facemask penalty to move the Hawks inside the Eagle 22 yard line. Then, Cronin spotted star wide-out Mekhi Henderson all alone one-on-one on the outside, and took full advantage.

Henderson beat his defender off the line of scrimmage and ran a vertical route straight to the back corner of the end zone. Cronin proceeded to take care of the rest, dropping a perfect ball right into the basket of Henderson to give the Hawks a 7-0 lead halfway through the second quarter.

“We saw them stacking the box those first few drives and we just said, ‘its time to open it up,’ said Cronin.

In all, the two teams combined for a mere four first downs in the first half (Xaverian 3, BC High 1) and just 158 yards of total offense (Xaverian 97, BC High 61).

Early on in the second half, Xaverian appeared to be on the verge of busting the game wide open.

The Hawks defense continued their dominant play forcing a quick three-and-out.

On the ensuing drive, the Hawks used a 42-yard reception from Henderson to get down to the Eagle 10 yard line. Two plays later Xaverian was knocking down the door, as a nine-yard run from Devin Peccinin got them down to the one.

Three dead ball fouls, however, including two false starts, stalled Xaverian’s chance for a possible game clinching touchdown, and caused them to settle for a 33-yard field goal from Brian Fallon to put them up 10-0.

Moments later, with Xaverian driving once again to the BC High 20 yard line and less than a minute to go in the third quarter, lightning struck over the Hawk Bowl. The lightning meant an automatic delay of thirty minutes. That thirty minutes quickly turned into nearly 20 hours as the game was postponed to Saturday at 3 pm.

When play resumed on Saturday afternoon, it was as though the game had never been delayed.

Xaverian picked up right where it left off, with defensive back Cooper DeVeau intercepting a deep pass down the right sideline to give the Hawks possession at midfield.

From then on, running back Devin Piccinin took control, carrying the ball five times for 44 yards, culminating in a three-yard touchdown to put Xaverian in full control up 17-0.

The Hawks defensive leader, middle linebacker A.J. Ryan, said the focus is now all on the next three weeks.

“A brand new season starts for us tomorrow so what we did these last couple weeks really doesn’t matter,” said Ryan. “We are playing really well defensively right now, so hopefully we can just carry it over, because these teams coming up are going to be as good as it gets.”

Behind Ryan the Hawks seem well-positioned to return to the Division One State Title for a fourth straight year.

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