By Connor Evans (@RonnocEvans)
The Lions and Tigers graced us with one of the most exciting high school games of the season Saturday evening. Late lead changes and a heart stopping fourth quarter brought us to overtime, where West Boylston would ultimately claim victory by a final of 44-36.
The game began as a defensive battle. Littleton scored the only touchdown of the first quarter after a botched special teams play by the Lions left the Tigers in great field position, and they took advantage. Sawyer Landfors rushed for a 16-yard touchdown to put Littleton up 8-0.
In the second quarter, West Boylston’s Cole McCubrey got going. He carried the rock eight times on a drive that he finished with a touchdown. The two point attempt would fail however, maintaining Littleton's 8-6 lead.
The Tigers ensuing possession was a lengthy, 11-play drive that resulted in another Landfors touchdown as time expired in the first half, and Littleton went into the locker room up 14-6.
The third quarter was split by both teams. McCubrey would find the endzone on a 9-yard rush, tying the game at 14.
Then Littleton quarterback Anthony Rausa tossed a long bomb to Jackson Ellis on a free play (offside, defense) and wouldn’t you know it— tip drill touchdown! Littleton was back on top up 22-14.
In the fourth quarter however, sparks would really fly.
West Boylston picked up the first touchdown of the quarter on a 43-yard breakout run by McCubrey.
After the Lions defense stopped Littleton, they came back and took their first lead of the night on an impressive 23-yard touchdown run from David Rizzut that made it 28-22 in favor of West Boylston.
On the next drive for Littleton, Anthony Rausa carried the ball into the end zone himself to take the lead back at 30-28.
West Boylston’s ensuing possession would stall, allowing Littleton to take over with enough chances to hypothetically run out the clock and win the game.
Some bold strategy by West Boylston head coach Mike Ross was the difference maker.
“I told them, ‘We’ve got to let them score,’ and it worked. If we didn’t we weren’t going to get the ball back,” he said after the game.
Littleton would in fact score again to make it 36-28 with 1:00 to play.
West Boylston came back strong and scored on the back of McCubrey yet again, got the two point conversion, and tied the game up in 30 seconds.
This momentum carried right over to overtime, as West Boylston would get the ball first and find the end zone to go up 44-36.
On the final possession of the game, West Boylston’s Ryan Mott picked off Littleton’s pass attempt to end the game and seal the Lions 44-36 win.
“We did it,” Ross said after the game. “This game shows what these kids were about all year. They never quit.”
McCubrey would add, “We train all year. The conditioning pays off. We were ready to keep playing. Now we are ready to go win next week. We’ve got momentum and we are going to bring it every day.”