GRAFTON – The Grafton High School football team came up just short in a nail-biting state semifinals game against Scituate on Nov. 20.
Rallying his players after the game, though, head coach Chris McMahon urged everyone to remain positive about what was a dominant regular season and playoff run.
“Clearly it didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to,” McMahon told reporters moments later. “But we can’t fault the effort.”
“There’s nothing to hang our heads about,” he continued. “The effort was outstanding.”
Grafton seizes momentum after early deficit
Scituate started strong, punching two touchdowns past the Grafton defense in the first quarter. Grafton then struggled to find running room as its offense took the field.
Things turned around in the second quarter when the Gators forced a turnover on downs while deep in their own territory.
Grafton scored with 5:14 left in the half. The team then halted Scituate’s attempt to answer when Tyson Thomas intercepted a ball that had initially been tipped by teammate Liam Donagher.
The teams went to halftime with momentum in Grafton’s favor despite a lingering 14-7 Scituate lead.
Things were scoreless in the third quarter before Grafton opened the fourth quarter with a crucial fumble recovery to get the offense back on the field.
Dimond got his team into the Scituate red zone when he connected with Thomas on a scrambling throw while under pressure from Sailors pass rushers.
Dimond then scored, himself, on a run from two yards out to tie the game.
The Sailors answered loudly just a few seconds later when Keegan Sullivan darted past defenders on his way to a game-winning 66-yard touchdown.
Coach praises team
Though Scituate won the game, McMahon lauded his players’ ability to bounce back when momentum was swinging hard against them.
“We gave up two quick scores,” he said. “We had a couple of things not go our way early in the game. But our kids are resilient.”
That situation, McMahon added, is hardly new for this 2021 Gators squad.
He mentioned tight victories over Northbridge and Shrewsbury in his postgame comments.
His team had also notably locked down a victory over Marlborough earlier this month when they scored 15 points in just four plays immediately after the Panthers had seemed poised to seize momentum and begin a comeback effort in round one of the MIAA playoffs.
“We’ve been in tough situations before and the kids bounced back,” McMahon said.
“The effort of the kids is just phenomenal,” he continued. “…To play a team like Situate and to, literally, in the fourth quarter be down to a play or two, it’s a testament to the kids.
Rocky Marciano Stadium in Brockton hosted both of the state’s Division IV semifinal games, Nov. 20.
As the Gators filed out of the stadium, a Brockton police officer walked in the opposite direction, passing each Grafton player with a nod.
“Hell of a game,” he said.