Friday, November 18, 2016

Millis-Hopedale Punches Super Bowl Ticket Against Boston Latin

By Nate Rollins (@n_rollins1)

BROCKTON, Mass.-- Millis-Hopedale is back in the Super Bowl for the first time since 1999.

M-H turned in a dominating 31-0 victory over Boston Latin Academy in the Division 4A state semifinals at Rocky Marciano Stadium in Brockton Friday evening.

The win also came on the heels of one of the program's freshman coaches losing his battle with cancer this morning.

"We had a rollercoaster today," M-H head coach Dana Olson said. "The kids fought tonight, we didn't play the cleanest game of football, but by the score we proved that we're the best in this region and whoever we play, we'll be ready for."  

M-H will meet either Maynard (10-0) or Turner Falls (10-0) Saturday, December, 3rd at 12 p.m in the Division 4A state final at Worcester State University.  

Running back Kurt Hopkins was a thorn in Latin Academy's side all night, eclipsing 100 yards of total offense.

"Hopkins is a great kid," Olson said. "He's an old school kind of guy. He's just doing what we ask him to do."

Two 80-plus yard scoring drives in the first half sparked the M-H win.

M-H (9-2), the South Sectional champion, took all of nine seconds to get on the scoreboard in this one. On its first play from scrimmage, wide receiver Brian Espanet showed off his arm, finding senior captain P.J. Adams (five receptions for 124 yards, two TDs) for a 52-yard touchdown to put M-H in front 6-0.

"We just felt that if we had good field position, let's role the dice," Olson said. "Go big or go home. I thought it really set the tempo early."

After a stalled drive by North Sectional champion Latin Academy (8-2), in which it advanced the ball to the M-H 24, Mohawks' signal caller Bryce Latosek (11 of 16 for 241 yards, TD) engineered an 11 play, 83-yard drive, capped off by a Hopkins 1-yard TD plunge, putting M-H up 14-0 after a successful two-point conversion.

M-H drove the ball down to the Dragon 14 on its next drive, but Luc Marvin picked off Latosek as Latin Academy regained possession with 9:02 remaining in the second quarter.

Punting out of its own end zone, Dragon junior Devon Harris-James came away with a fumble recovery at their 35, but the M-H defense held strong to force a punt of its own.

With 3:12 remaining before the half, Latosek marched his team over 80 yards once again, as he found Adams on a 24-yard TD (extra point good) to push the M-H lead to 21-0.

The M-H defense limited Latin Academy to 179 yards of offense in the first half.

On M-H's first drive of the third quarter, Dom Zonfrelli took an end-around 19 yards for a touchdown. Espanet's 59-yard reception keyed the drive.

M-H capped out the scoring with a Chris Edwards 29-yard field goal with 10:56 remaining, extending its lead to 31-0.

M-H's offensive line, which had allowed only seven sacks all season coming into play, was superb all game.

"Kudos to them," Olson said. "We expect to be able to do the things we do, but I'm proud of them. Those guys grind day in and day out because there the ones that are going to win us football games."

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