Fourth and inches. At their goal line. This could be the last play of the game and year. The season hung on the brink as the Dracut defense approached the line of scrimmage. All their hard work, practice and sweat hinged on the upcoming play of the Westford football team.
At the snap of the ball, the big Gray Ghost fullback took the handoff and started up the middle -- hoping to score the winning touchdown. But the tremendous surge by the Middies' interior linemen forced him to bounce outside. Trying to shed and shake off the arms and hands of tackles and nose guards, he was gang-tackled by a swarm of defenders -- ends, linebackers, corners and safety. The game was far from over though.
Earlier that night, a confident and determined Dracut C Football Team entered Acton-Boxboro's Leary Field knowing that only one team would advance from the upcoming three-team dogfight to the Eastern Mass. Pop Warner League playoffs. The boys in blue got lucky with the coin toss and obtained a bye in the first round as they awaited the winner of Lawrence and Westford. Three quick plays later, knew they would face off against the Gray Ghosts.
Dracut took the ball first and was unable to score from 10 yards out on their four downs. The Dracut defense then stuffed two runs before Westford's quarterback rolled out and made his way inside the one-yard line. The above mentioned goal-line stand extended the final dogfight to another overtime period.
Now it was the Middies turn again. A hard run off tackle picked up six yards after some excellent blocking by the center, guards and tackles. The Middies followed up that call with a nice outside run that led to a four-yard touchdown. Crushing blocks by Dracut's backs, wide receivers and quarterback sprung their speedy tailback into the end zone. The extra point looked good but was waived off by the referee, making the score 6-0. The Grey Ghosts would now have a chance to tie things up or win the game, but their first snap was fumbled away and recovered by the triumphant Dracut squad.
The invigorating team win and dramatic victory over a stellar opponent allows Dracut to advance in the playoffs. Next up for the 6-3 Middies were the Greater Boston League champion Cambridge Warriors.
Middies go down fighting
Outhit. Outwork. Outthink. Outhustle. These have been the adages of the 2012 Dracut C Football Team all year as they entered the Eastern Mass. Pop Warner League playoffs against a talented Cambridge Warriors squad. And though the Middies dropped a hard-fought 19-12 decision to the Greater Boston League Champs, the boys gave their all and battled to the final whistle.
Dracut took the opening kickoff and pounded their way down field behind some fierce blocking. The rotating line play of Anton Mao, Josh Hastie, Steve Lamontagne, Jacob Beaulieu, Robby Sparks, David Coombs, Dawson Coombs, Jarred Lash, Trevor Usher and Mike Pilato led to an 80-yard scoring drive. Jeremy Gray and Lincoln Lessard picked up positive yardage before Nemisis Lopez scored from 7 yards out to put the Middies up 6-0.
The Dracut defense then shut down the renowned inside running attack of Cambridge with some hard-hitting tackles by Nik Carter and Trevor Anstiss, which led to a fumble recovery by Christian Frazier as the first quarter came to a close.
The Middies then started from their own 38-yard line as Ryan Verdi picked up some yards with good blocks by Jose Torrado and Joey Petka. Two offensive series took time off the clock but Dracut was forced to punt. Cambridge had to turn to their passing game after QB sacks by Trevor Lupien and Devin Farrell put them into a third and 34 situation. The Warriors quarterback was able to avoid the relentless pursuit of William Peters and throw a game tying pass as the half ended in a 6-6 tie.
Steady defensive pressure by the Middies in the third quarter kept the game tied before a tough "five men in the backfield" infraction wiped out an outstanding Dracut punt. The penalty led to great field position as the Warriors took possession. Kevin Carney then stripped the ball out of the Cambridge runner's hands and Dracut just missed recovering the fumbled ball before the Warriors took the lead 12-6 going into the fourth quarter.
Aise Pream returned the following kickoff 32 yards from his own end zone before tying things up 12-12 for Dracut on a 33-yard touchdown run. The long and time-consuming scoring drive again featured smash-mouth football by the Dracut squad as they hammered their way past Cambridge, leaving two minutes to play in the game. The Warriors quickly responded with a go-ahead score after an electrifying down the sideline 71-yard TD return.
The Middies answered with an excellent chance to tie the game up after a great 27-yard reception by Zeke Haradji put his team at the Cambridge 18 yard line. Dracut's gallant effort came up just short as the Warriors intercepted the subsequent pass near the end zone. Though this tough loss knocks the Middies out of the playoffs, the Dracut squad had a terrific season.