By Connor Evans (@RonnocEvans)
HOLDEN, Mass. - Friday night’s Division 2 Central semifinal at Wachusett Regional High School featured two regional juggernauts. We expected fireworks and we got them. At the end of the game, Algonquin prevailed 48-27 in a game that felt much closer than the final score showed.
Algonquin will advance next week to face the winner of Saturday’s game between St. John’s and Shrewsbury in the D2 Central final.
To open the game, Algonquin put together an impressive opening drive that resulted in 4th-and-goal-from-the-2 plunge by Max Cerasoli to put the Tomahawks up 7-0.
On Wachusett’s ensuing possession, the Mountaineers let everyone know they weren’t going to make this easy. A nice drive was capped off by some tough running from Cole Durkan, who found the end zone from 18 yards out to tie the game at seven.
“They’re a really good football team," Algonquin Coach Justin McKay said of Wachusett. "For us to come out on top tonight, we were going to have to focus on the little things.”
Early in the second quarter, Algonquin would seize a lead that they would maintain through the rest of the game. Colin Robinson hauled in a nice catch from quarterback Ryan Barry resulting in six points. The ensuing extra point was blocked and run back for a score by Wachusett, but a block in the back took Mountaineer points off the board, and Algonquin still led 13-7.
After stopping the Mountaineers’ next drive, Algonquin would proceed to drive the ball all the way down the field again and punch it in on the ground, this time having Barry take it himself for a 20-7 lead.
On the next play from scrimmage however, Durkan of Wachusett would strike yet again, blasting through a hole made by his own line for a 50-yard score, his second of the game to make it 20-14.
As the half was winding down, both teams were hoping for one more score. Wachusett held Algonquin to 4th and 6, but somehow Robinson was left WIDE OPEN on the next play for an easy touchdown. The T-Hawks led 27-14 going into halftime.
Barry finds Robinson for a 34-yard score. 27-14 Algonquin over Wachusett with 2 minutes left in the 1st half. pic.twitter.com/AmsKowe4m8— Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe) November 4, 2016
Wachusett would receive the ball at intermission and they came out flying. It was almost immediately that Sam Brewer would again reap the reward of a great piece of blocking from the O-Line. Brewer took it 64 yards to the house to make it 27-21.
On the ensuing kickoff, Wachusett would recover the ball after it bounced off a member of the receiving team, but would be stuffed by Algonquin’s defense. At this time, the T-Hawks would take a nice long march down the field, ending with Cerasoli the end zone for the second time, all while eating up clock, to push their lead to 34-21.
On the ensuing drive for Wachusett, a bizarre failed punt attempt gave Algonquin the ball in great field position, which the Tomahawks capitalized on, sending Brett Sherman up the middle for a one yard touchdown to make it 41-21.
The Mountaineers’ Durkan wasn’t done yet however. He would scamper up the left sideline for a 42-yard scoring run, giving his team their last glimmer of hope at 41-27.
The final score of the game would come from Algonquin though, as Marcus Ellis would have his number called. He proceeded to run hard for 15 yards to pay dirt.
Ryan Barry after the game would be highly complementary of his teammates.
“Special credit to the offensive line," Barry said. "They’re one of the best lines in CMass and they don’t get enough credit.”
Teammate Colin Robinson would add, “O-Line played amazing tonight. This game was a huge confidence booster to our whole team.”
The T-Hawks picked up 20 first downs on the evening, again beating a team that no one else in the region had found a way to win against.
“We are just going to raise our level once again,” said Robinson, in regards to preparing for next week.
At the end of the day, Algonquin just looked strong. On both sides of the ball, the Tomahawks proved that they absolutely belong in the position they’re now in.We will see if they can take it any further in next week's Division 2 Central championship game against either Shrewsbury or St. John's (Shrewsbury).