A-B closes out Woburn
By Steve Algeri firstname.lastname@example.org
WOBURN Although Acton-Boxborough won handily last night over Woburn, the Colonials will have a hard time convincing the Tanners that they were as dominant as the 30-6 final score would indicate. Still, it is the Colonials who advanced to the Division 2 Super Bowl while Woburn athletes head off to winter practices.
A-B will face Chelmsford on Sunday at Worcester State. Chelmsford overtook Weymouth last night in the final minutes to avert an upset and win 29-18.
Woburn head coach Rocky Nelson was deathly afraid of A-B's big play potential and unfortunately, he proved to be a prophet as the Colonials scored three of their four touchdowns via the big play.
A-B cashed in on a long pass (42 yards), an interception return for a score (58) and a blocked field goal (70) which was returned for a TD. Barry Jeanson, A-B's standout running back, did play, but his effectiveness was limited. He gained 62 yards on 12 carries but didn't figure in on the scoring.
"He was about at 70 percent," said A-B head coach Bill Maver of Jeanson. "But, having him play gave the kids a lift. Whenever he would come out I'd say 'let me know when you can go in.'"
The Tanners were very much in the game well into the third quarter. They battled back to close within eight at the half (14-6), but saw things get away from them in the second half.
"I knew they had big-play potential, but I never thought it would be on a blocked field and an interception," said Nelson. "We were feeling pretty good at the half only down 14-6 after we overcame a lot of adversity to hang in there."
A-B opened the scoring with a 42-yard Tyler DiPace to Michael Krug touchdown pass on its first series of the game. On a nice play-action fake, DiPace found Krug wide open behind the Tanner secondary for the score.
On Woburn's next possession, Tom Clifford intercepted Woburn QB Chris Skeffington, one of five turnovers the Tanners would commit, and returned it 58 yards for a touchdown. This gave A-B a 14-0 lead with only 5:06 gone into the game.
A-B did a good job shutting down Woburn's running game. But, Woburn got on the board on a one-yard touchdown plunge by sophomore fullback Mike McLaughlin capping off an impressive 15-play, 72-yard drive which began late in the first quarter and was culminated with 7:54 to play in the second quarter.
A key play was a roughing the kicker penalty on A-B which gave kept the drive alive and gave the Tanners a first down at A-B's 35-yard line.
McLaughlin was the featured back in this series and the drive was the only time the Tanners were able to get some consistency from their running attack. The 240-pound sophomore fullback ran the ball seven times and also caught a screen pass good for 15 yards and a first down to the A-B 20.
The Tanners had a chance just before the half, but Clifford made a good defensive play when he broke up a Doug Johnson option pass to tight end Paul Dwyer in the end zone on the final play of the half.
Then it all came undone for Woburn in the second half. The Tanners were hoping to put up three points on their opening possession with a long field-goal attempt by Ryan Kelley and cut A-B's lead down to 14-9.
With the wind at his back, the Tanners had Kelley attempt a 39-yard field goal, but nose guard Brian Crowley got a big push up the middle to block it. A-B's Kevin Gallant scooped up the ball and went 70 yards for the score as the Colonials went ahead 21-6 with 2:40 to play in the third quarter, and that pretty much did it.
At that point Woburn was trying to force things to happen and the Tanners turned the ball on each of their final three series.
After the blocked field goal return for the TD, A-B recovered a Woburn fumble and converted a 28-yard field goal by DiPace early in the fourth quarter to make it 24-6. They tacked on another touchdown with 3:01 to play on a one-yard sneak by DiPace to complete the scoring.
Yet, the Tanners are left with a few "what ifs." The statistics were fairly even and Woburn had more first downs (13-10). The big plays just killed the Tanners.
"We played with them and anyone whose says that we are not legit, I'll show them the film," said Skeffington. "They had those big plays and we couldn't buy a break."
Woburn was playing in the postseason for the first time since 1993, but it hasn't won a postseason game now since 1979. Still, a Middlesex League co-championship is a cherished accomplishment and the Tanners did themselves proud this season.
"I'm very proud of this football team," said Nelson. "They never quit and did bring a (Middlesex League) championship back to Woburn."