Saturday, October 27, 2018

Vigeant's Late Plunge Lifts Marlborough to Upset of St. John's

St. John's quarterback Colin Schofield tries to evade the Marlboro pass rush in the Panthers 29-24 win over the Pioneers.

By John McGuirk (@Patsfan1313)

Marlborough, Mass. -- From the very first snap during practice earlier in the week, Marlborough set forth a plan. 

In order to beat St. John's, and its high-octane offense, the Panthers reminded themselves that it needed to gain the upper-hand as far as ball control was concerned. The objective was simple. Keep the Pioneers offense sidelined for as long as they could.

That script worked to perfection as Marlborough controlled the clock by way of its ground and pound offense, continuing to chalk up first downs with a steady movement down field. 

The end result came dramatically as running back Lou Vigeant smashed over the goal line from one yard out with 10 seconds remaining to give Marlborough a thrilling 29-24 victory over St. John's Friday night at historic Kelleher Field.

"We knew it could come down to one play and we did it," said Vigeant. "We anticipated this to be a four quarter game and it was. They have a high-powered offense so we wanted to keep them off the field for as long as possible. We just knew coming into the fourth quarter that it was going to be a grind."

After picking up two disappointing losses midway through the season, Marlborough seems to have rebound quite nicely raising its record to 6-2 with the postseason arriving next weekend.

"We are getting better," Panthers coach Sean Mahoney said. "Offensively, we were able to control the ball tonight. Defensively, St. John's has a very good on offense but we did what we had to do to win this game. We gave up some yards but these kids are just great. It is a nice win for us going into the playoffs next weekend."

The Panthers offense frustrated St. John's as the Pioneers defense proved unable to come up with big-time stops in key situations. Marlborough finished with 322 yards, including 188 over the final two quarters. Vigeant, as he has been all season long, was a workhorse out of the backfield. The senior bullied his way for 132 yards on 34 carries, finding the end zone three times and picking up a pair of two-point conversion runs.

"He is just a bull out there," said Mahoney. "He wants the ball and we give it to him. We were able to control the ball tonight because he was able to get some big yards for us to keep drives alive."

After St. John's (5-3), moved ahead 24-23 on a Colin Schofield 4 yard completion to Shea Gallo-Kolegue with 5:14 remaining, everyone in attendance knew the Pioneers had left too much time on the clock for Marlborough.

Behind Vigeant, and fellow running back Brandon Cavicchio, Marlborough calmly and methodically marched 57 yards ahead of Vigeant's game-winning score which left the Pioneers stunned.

"It was like a heavyweight fight out there," St. John's coach John Andreoli said. "They did a great job controlling the clock and running the ball with their Veer offense. We had a couple of drives stall for us in the red zone and some penalties hurt us as well. Against a team like that you have to make every possession count because if you don't, they'll make you pay for it. They're a very good football team and are well-coached."

The Pioneers wasted little time jumping out to the early lead. On their opening possession, junior running back Eamonn Dennis (199 yards) cut through the Panthers defense to eventually set up a Schofield 6 yard jaunt into the end zone for a 6-0 lead.

On the flip side, Marlborough was also able to penetrate the Pioneers' defense. However, on their initial series, the Panthers stalled on the St. John's 24. But on their next possession, they drove 59 yards capped off by Vigeant dive from the 1 yard line to go on top 7-6. 

As expected, St. John's had an answer on its ensuing drive. Schofield (10/18, 147 total yards) maintained possession by hitting on a few short passes before opening things up a bit with his ability to run down field. After reaching the Panthers 2 yard line, Schofield finished off the 71 yard march with a run into the end zone to make it 12-7 with 4:01 remaining before halftime.

Getting the ball to start the final half, Marlborough continued to move the ball effectively behind Vigeant. Facing a 3rd-and-8 from the St. John's 10, quarterback Richie Webber connected with Steve DiGregorio on an out pass to the 1 before Vigeant capped things off with a touchdown leap across the goal line. 

His follow-up conversion run had the Panthers back in front 15-12 with 3:53 showing in the third.

"That is Panther football," said Vigeant. "We just had to keep grinding things out in the trenches. Our offensive line really wanted this tonight. They gave all the running backs some of the biggest holes that we have seen all season against a good defense. So credit to them."

Yet again, the Pioneers showed their resiliency. A Dennis 23 yard scramble and a 27 yard pass completion to Jay Brunelle paved the way for Richarno Hylton's 5 yard scoring dash to put St. John's back on top 18-15. This see-saw caper continued with Marlborough engineering another sustained drive, this time covering 73 yards. 

A Webber 17 yard pass to Vigeant, on a tipped ball, was followed by a Webber 14 yard scamper. Now facing a 4th-and-6 at the St. John's 23, Webber hit DiGregorio in the right corner of the end zone for the score. Vigeant's conversion carry had the Panthers in the lead again, up 23-18 with 8:55 to go.

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