A really fun game
Region - This was a fun one, in a high school football season seemingly filled with them. Shrewsbury improved to 7-0, and, yes, kept that perfect season alive, with a come-from-behind, double overtime, 35-29 victory over Westborough Oct. 20.
Westborough fans were celebrating a homecoming Saturday at Joseph Mewhiney Field, and they almost had a chance to celebrate one of the biggest upsets of the Central Mass. football season. While some teams might turtle under the pressure of playing an undefeated and top-ranked football team, Mark Ellis's Rangers looked more like bulls out for the upset.
Shrewsbury coach Terry Walles and Ellis met at midfield after this epic, both with smiles, saying, "Fun game, fun game." That's the kind of afternoon it was. No refunds required after this one.
The game went into overtime tied at 21. The Rangers had a chance to win it in regulation, but Andy Basque's 37yard field goal was blocked.
Both teams scored with their first possessions in the overtime. Shrewsbury's Jawad Yatim ran one in from 10 yards out to start the second OT. The Cols were stopped on the extra point. Westborough, though, couldn't capitalize, the game ending when Mohamed Yatim stopped Zach Lane on fourth-down screen pass.
There were many key moments, momentum shifts in this game, none bigger than a Shrewsbury goal-line stand in the third quarter. With Westborough already up 14-7, the Cols put up a goal-line stand. Shrewsbury took over, going 98 yards, in 3:39, to tie the score at 14-14. Alex Alvarez scored from five yards out to complete the drive, a 75-yard Jawad Yatim to Paul Tizzano pass, a big play.
Teams that are undefeated, and top-ranked, usually make their own breaks. That would aptly describe Shawn Loiseau's play early in the fourth quarter. Loiseau was looking to punt, but getting a low snap, Loiseau was off running for a first down. Loiseau finished the drive taking a handoff in from 12 yards out and the Cols were up, 21-14.
Being number one, and undefeated, usually means that you are going to face the best of the opposition, regardless of their record. It's the other team's Super Bowl.
"Every week you have to come to play," Walles said.
Westborough had an immediate answer when Scott Brady returned the ensuing kick-off 90 yards for a score. Brady had a spectacular afternoon. Earlier in the second half he took a pitch, made a quick cut at the line and used his speed to go 46 yards for another score.
The wide-open Ranger offense had former long-time head coach, now offensive coordinator Jan Gebo's signature all over it. The Rangers threw a couple of half-back passes, one from Brian Gove to Lane good for an early score. Westborough also ran some plays with six receivers out-wide, three to each side, with a three-man interior off ensive line, and empty backfield. Leave it to Gebo to come up a few wrinkles for an undefeated team to deal with.
Shrewsbury made big defensive plays to get back into this one, and eventually win it.
"Our defense has been great all year," Walles said. "We really stepped it up [when we had to]."
Westborough did better than most against the Cols defense, putting up 22 points (another seven on a kick return) against a team that had allowed just 51 points over its first six games, and had kept teams to single digits in five of their first six.
Walles has already taken another team to a Super Bowl title, but that team didn't make it to 7-0. This is new territory for the Shrewsbury football program.
Week 8 pigskin
All games Friday Oct. 26 at 7 p.m. or Saturday Oct. 27 at 1 p.m., unless noted.
Westborough at Millbury, Friday. Prediction: Tough road game after a very emotional loss. Millbury 21-20.
Shrewsbury at Marlborough, Friday. It took two days to complete after the power failure at Kelleher, but Marlborough prevailed over a very good Milford team as Josh Carter continues to get it done. Prediction: Game of the week written all over this one as it is a battle of two league unbeatens. Shrewsbury 28-21.
Ayer at Hudson, Friday. The Hawks are struggling, now 3-4 after a 27-7 loss to Oakmont. But they come off a month of playing four straight road games. Prediction: The Hawks like the Morgan Bowl. Hudson 21-14.
Assabet at Monty Tech, Friday. Few teams are hotter than the high scoring Aztecs, now 6-1, only a week-one loss to Hudson on the books. The Aztecs get my vote for one of the top 10 spots in the CMASS medal poll. Prediction: AV 35-21.
Algonquin at Fitchburg, Friday. After winning three of their first four, the T-Hawks have lost three straight and have scored just 13 points total in their last two games. Prediction: Fitchburg 27-13.
St. John's at Xaverian, Saturday (1:30 p.m.). Three losses in four outings for the Pioneers. Yes, you read that correctly. Highly unusual. Prediction: No get well plan here. Xaverian 21-20.
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