Friday, November 2, 2018

Crowley, High-Flying Offense Send St. John's Prep to Sectional Final

By Matt Feld (@Mattyfeld612)

Danvers, Mass. -- It was only midway through the quarter, but the celebration had already commenced. 

Matt Crowley finished 20-of-31 for 289 yards and five touchdowns while the Eagles posted 637 yards of total offense as No. 2 St. John's Prep defeated Acton-Boxboro, 55-28, to advance to the Div. 1 North Final on Glatz Field at Cronin Memorial Stadium.

The Eagles will look to advance to their first Super Bowl under the new playoff format when they take on Central Catholic next Friday.

"Last year was difficult due to injuries so I am proud that this team has been able to rally back and stick together," said Crowley. "I felt great. All credit to the line and our wide receivers."

At 9:41pm, about 30 minutes south off route one, while St. John's Prep's offense was taking care of business as the third quarter wound down, Central Catholic dethroned the seemingly immortal Everett Crimson Tide. 

An announcement blared over the St. John's Prep public address system, sending the crowd and Eagles sideline into a frenzy.

"I appreciate our guy making the call in the middle of the third quarter," Eagles coach Brian St. Pierre with a smirk. "I knew (Acton-Boxboro) was good. They entered the game undefeated for a reason."

Throughout the night, the St. John's Prep offense was unstoppable. Crowley's top offensive weapons on the night proved to be Max Freedman (9 catches, 169 yards, 3 TDs) and Wes Rockett (9 catches, 112 yards, 2 TDs). Trent Tully, meanwhile, wore the Colonials' line down rushing for 169 yards and a pair of scores.

The two sides traded blows early on with Acton-Boxboro (8-1) showcasing the high-octane offense that made them so successful during the regular season.

After Crowley got the Eagles on the board first with a 34-yard touchdown pass to Freedman, Finn Murray (16-of-31. 196, 4 TDs) and the Colonials came right back with the senor quarterback hooking up with Stanley Bernard (3 catches, 97 yards, 2 TDs) on a 53-yard touchdown to tie the game, 6-6.

A similar pattern soon followed, with Crowley hitting Freedman in stride for an 8 yard score only for the Colonials to come right back. This time it was Patrick Kronenwett taking an inside handoff and breaking free through the tackles for a 54 yard touchdown run to pull Acton-Boxboro within 14-13 early in the second quarter.

The Prep's offense, however. quickly separated itself.

After Tully rushed for 34 yards down inside the Acton-Boxboro 25-yard line, Crowley lofted up a jump ball to Rockett who came down with it in the back corner of the end zone to put St. John's Prep on top, 21-13.
St. John's Prep's defense then made itself known, with the secondary knocking down a trio of Murray passes to force an A-B punt.
Crowley took control once again hitting Freedman on a 70-yard post pattern to extend the Eagles lead to 28-13.
"Matt has been strong all year, he keeps growing in the position," said St. Pierre. "He's maturing. The reads, the overall command of everything we're doing. You're starting to see it. He's a good leader, too."
Acton-Boxboro fell down by margins of 22, 20, 21 points over the course of the next two quarters but continued to stay within striking distance. 
After a terrific catch by Rockett in the back of the end zone that consisted of some nifty footwork that put St. John's Prep up 41-21 after three, the Colonials drew closer.
Murray hit Victor Otero on the run for a 12-yard touchdown to pull A-B within 41-28.
Tully, however. proved unstoppable in the games waning moments. The senior back ran four times for 51 yards, capped off by a 23 yard touchdown run, to give St. John's a 48-28 lead midway through the fourth.

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