Friday, November 10, 2017

Middleboro Outlasts Old Rochester in Division 6 South Final

By Nate Rollins (@n_rollins1)

Mattapoisett -- If we learned anything Friday evening, it’s that the Middleboro offense is explosive.

Playing at a frigid David S. Hagen Memorial Field, the fifth-seeded Sachems went on a 21-0 run that spanned roughly 12 minutes, opening a three-score lead, and never looked back en route to a 30-21 triumph over second-seeded Old Rochester in the Division 6 South Sectional final.

Middleboro (8-2) will meet the winner of Hamilton-Wenham (9-0) versus Stoneham (7-2) (Saturday, Nov. 11, 1 p.m.) in the D6 state semifinals next Friday.

While all the talk coming into this one was centered around both team’s starting running backs in Middleboro's Jeremy Soule  and Old Rochester's Harry Smith, Sachems signal caller Evan Gwozdz who stole the show.

Gwozdz racked up 238 total yards of offense and found the end zone four times to spark the late-blooming Middleboro attack.

“Evan was the X-factor tonight, he really was,” Middleboro head coach Pat Kingman said. “It was one of those things that said - hey what do you want to do, how do you want to do it? He was big time for us tonight.”

Trailing 7-0 with just over six minutes to go in the second half, the Sachems began their drive from their own 41. On the ensuing play, Gwozdz (6 for 9 for 136 yards, TD) found Colin O’Brien wide open across the middle of the field for a 59-yard TD strike. Brandon Buote’s point after knotted it at 7-7.

Four minutes later, the Sachems were back on offense, but not for long when Gwozdz (12 carries for 102 yards, 3 TDs) found some daylight up the middle and rushed 75 yards to pay dirt. Buote’s kick put Middleboro ahead, 14-7.

Still without a point since Harry Smith’s 2-yard scoring rush in the first quarter just 5:01 in, Old Rochester’s opening drive of the second half was defused on forth-down by a swarm of Sachems.

“People talk about our offense scoring points, but hey our defense ain’t too bad,” Kingman said. “We’ve been playing some pretty good defense all year long.”

Middleboro would then march down the field, with the help of a pair of Bulldogs penalties, for a score as Gwozdz found the end zone from three yards to make it a three-score affair.

Old Rochester cut into its deficit with nine ticks to go in the third frame on a Will Garcia 24-yard rush to the outside. However, the kick was blocked and returned for two points by Middleboro’s Harry Lappiere. 

“We came out just wanting to play hard tonight,” Kingman said. “We’ve had guys who have been in this situation for a little bit.”

The Sachems tacked on seven more midway through the fourth quarter on yet another Gwozdz scoring scamper and Buote point after.

Old Rochester added a late score and two-point conversion to make it a 31-20 final. 

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