Friday, November 3, 2017

Middleboro Gets Payback Against Norwell in D6 South Semis

By Nate Rollins (@n_rollins1)

Norwell, Mass - Revenge can be a sweet thing. On Friday evening, it certainly was for Middleboro High.

The No. 5 Sachems avenged a 34-32 nail-bitting loss to Norwell just three weeks ago to down the No. 1 Clippers, 32-22, in a Division 6 South Sectional semifinal tilt.

“Resiliency man,” Middleboro head coach Pat Kingman said. “We had a couple tough losses, obviously one to these guys and one to Rockland, and these guys believed in it the whole time. We got some gamers.”

Middleboro will meet No. 2 Old Rochester (8-1) in the Division 6 South Sectional final next week.

When the Sachems (7-2) needed a big-time play, Jeremy Soule answered the bell. The senior tailback rushed for 187 yards on 18 carries and found pay dirt three times in the win. He also had a pair of catches for 17 yards.

“I’m so proud,” Soule said. “I could not be prouder of these guys.

Tied at 14-14 and facing a 4th-and-1 at the Middleboro 31, the Clippers (7-2) opted to go for it. The Sachems’ John Curtin made sure they didn’t get it, as Middleboro turned them over on downs.

11 plays and 4:49 thereafter, Middleboro signal caller Evan Gwozdz (8 of 12 for 121 yards and 7 carries for 61 yards, 2 TDs) took a keeper one yard into the end zone to cap off a 69-yard drive. The Sachems, despite missing the extra point, would gain all the momentum as they went ahead 20-14.

On the ensuing Norwell possession, senior captain Shawn McCarthy picked off Clipper quarterback Cal Smith (6 of 7 for 65 yards, TD and 8 carries for 38 yards, 2 TDs) at midfield. The turnover gave the Sachems the ball at their own 49.

Two Soule runs of 41 and 11 yards respectively resulted in a Middleboro touchdown and a 26-14 advantage.

“My line was making really big holes in their defense, and it opened up a lot for me and the rest of the offense,” Soule said.

The Sachems would keep their foot on the gas pedal as they stripped Norwell’s Ben Bostrom of the the ball on the next Clippers drive. A little over two minutes later, Gwozdz, with the help of some fancy footwork, finessed his way in for a score to push Middleboro ahead 32-14.

“Defensively, besides a few plays, we balled out,” Kingman said. “We told these guys all week long we had to make three stops. We did that.”

With 38 seconds remaining, a Smith 1-yard TD coupled with a Bryce Griffin (21 carries for 82 yards) two-point conversion, made it a 32-22 ballgame. Unfortunately for Norwell, it was too little too late.

“When you get six to eight games, you kind of pick things apart,” Kingman said of how familiarity played into this game. “Sometimes it’s too much time, but we had a pretty good idea of what they were going to try to do to us.”

Early in this one, it appeared it may be a defensive dogfight.

It took until 9:10 into the opening frame for the first points to be scored when Soule took a handoff one yard to cap off a 65-yard drive. Brandon Buote’s kick made it 7-0.

The Clippers countered on their ensuing possession via a Smith 4-yard keeper to make it a one-point game, 7-6.

Soule answered with a 5-yard rush to push the Sachems ahead 14-6 after Buote’s kick.

“We kind of compared this to a heavyweight fight,” Kingman said. “You’re gonna get punched, you’re gonna get punched and then you’re gonna punch back. Someone’s gonna get knocked down. Who is gonna be the one who gets back up?”

With 30 seconds to go in the first half, Smith found Ethan Robbins (4 receptions for 35 yards, TD) in the left corner of the end zone. Griffin’s two-point run knotted it at 14-14 to set up a pivotal second half.

Also having a big impact for the Sachems was senior wide receiver Colin O’Brien, who had five catches for 81 yards.

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