It looked like Coach Dave Maimaron was going out on a limb by scheduling Division 1 powerhouse Xaverian for the Dragon’s home opener, but the Duxbury coach got the last laugh for those who doubted his decision.

It looked like Coach Dave Maimaron was going out on a limb by scheduling Division 1 powerhouse Xaverian for the Dragon’s home opener, but the Duxbury coach got the last laugh for those who doubted his decision.

Before a packed house on a beautiful Friday night in Duxbury, the Dragons pulled off one of the greatest wins in the program’s history with an exciting 27-24 come-from-behind win over the Hawks.

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Dragons QB Sean Cross barks out signals at the line of scrimmage.

While running back Shane Dibona and QB Sean Cross have been the media darlings in all the preseason stories, it would be hard to believe that either player would question that it was a total team effort.

The number of key plays throughout the evening would be hard to chronicle, as the Dragons showed time and time again that they have a wide array of talent that can make the big plays when needed.

With dozens of area coaches in attendance, it’s hard to believe they didn’t leave the field shaking at the thought of playing the Dragons on their 2008 schedule.

After winning the toss, the Hawks deferred to the Dragons in a surprise move, but one that would work to their advantage later in the game.

Starting on its own 19-yard line, Duxbury jumped on the back of Dibona, who ran for 53 yards in an eight-play drive, culminating in a 31-yard TD run that was aided by a beautiful block from senior Steve Ripley. Sophomore Ben Startzell came on for the extra point to give Duxbury a 7-0 lead with 7:36 to go in the quarter.{sidebar id=4}

A stunned Xaverian came right back, taking just over three minutes to go 63 yards, with the aid of some poor Duxbury tackling, to score a TD on a 4-yard run by junior Anthony Knight. Senior Brennan Sweeney came on for the extra point to tie the score at 7-7 with 4:21 on the clock.

Duxbury appeared to have little trouble moving against the Hawk defense, but failed to capitalized on its next drive when a Cross pass sailed over the head of a wide open Dibona who was in full stride down the middle of the field.

Xaverian would go nowhere on its next series, turning the ball over on fourth down as the Dragons defense stopped four straight passes by senior QB Anthony Varrichione.

With 10:26 to go in the first half, Duxbury took over on its own 43 and needed just one play to get into scoring range.

Taking a hand-off from Cross, Dibona broke off left tackle and raced into the Hawks’ secondary, cutting back across the grain and racing 45 yards down the right sideline to put the ball at the Xaverian 12.{sidebar id=1}

An incomplete pass and two Dibona runs left the home team with a fourth down and six from the eight. Startzell came onto the field and nailed a 25-yard field goal, but went down hard, drawing a roughing penalty. Maimaron took a chance and three points came off the board, putting his faith in Dibona, who took it over right guard for his second score of the game. Startzell’s PAT made it 14-7 with 8:25 left in the half.

A great defensive effort by the senior trio of Quinn Cully, Will Shields and Dibona forced a Xaverian punt on the subsequent drive, and another blitz by Dibona forced an intentional grounding against Varrichione that left the Hawks trailing at halftime.

Whatever momentum the Dragons had going into the second half disappeared in 12 seconds, as sophomore Nicholas McDaniels took the kick-off and went down the left side for 85 yards and a score. Sweeney’s PAT tied the game at 14-14.

Xaverian senior Robert Crossen stepped in front of a Cross pass on Duxbury’s second play from scrimmage and gave the visitors possession at their own 49-yard line.

Varrichione called a keeper on the first play of the drive and broke around the left side, avoiding several weak attempts at tackling the lanky QB, who rambled his way down to the nine-yard line. Two plays later Matt Tuleja waltzed into the end zone and Sweeney’s PAT had the Dragons trailing 21-14.

The stunned Dragons couldn’t muster any offense and punted the ball away, giving the Hawks possession at their own 44 where they eventually moved the ball into scoring range and settled for a Sweeney field goal and a 24-14 lead with 1:40 to go in the third quarter.

The game appeared to be slipping away, as Duxbury went four and out to start the final eleven minutes. But its defense held its own and got the ball back with 7:42 left in the game.

On the second play of the drive, Cross dropped back and lofted a pass to Dibona, who was running down the middle of the field, dragging tacklers behind him as he moved the ball to the seven.

After a pair of two-yard plunges took the ball down to the three-yard line, an exhausted Dibona gave way to junior Bobby Murphy, who took it in for the score. Startzell’s PAT made it 24-21 and the Dragons were right back in the contest.

Startzell’s kick-off went into the end zone, negating the threat of another McDaniels’ dash and putting the ball on the 20. The Hawks faced a crucial third down and two from the 28, but senior linebacker Ben Urann made the defensive play of his career, slipping through the line and sacking Varrichione for a two-yard loss that forced Xaverian to punt.

Taking over on their own 40-yard line with 3:08 to go, the Dragons were stuffed on three straight plays with defeat one play away.

On fourth and nine from his own 41-yard line, Cross dropped back and launched a 33-yard bomb high into the air down the right sideline. Junior Matt Savard went stride-for-stride with his defender, staying focused on the ball the whole time, and out-jumping the Xaverian defensive back for the ball in what could be the offensive play of the year.

“We didn’t throw the ball a lot because we had faith that our offensive line would allow us to run the ball,” said Maimaron. “We can throw and you saw how Sean and Matt executed that play perfectly.”

Murphy got the call on first down and wove his way through a maze of Xaverian players, gaining 22 yards and putting the ball at the four-yard line with 46 seconds to go.

The call went out to Dibona, who brought the crowd to its feet with his third score of the night to give Duxbury a 27-24 lead. The PAT would have made life much easier for Coach Maimaron and the Dragons, but Startzell’s kick was blocked, giving the Hawks one last hope.

A squib kick put the ball at the visitor’s 25-yard line with 40 seconds on the clock, and Varrichione did his best, hitting senior Matt Guay on three straight passes that moved the ball to the Duxbury 28 with five seconds remaining.

Sweeney rushed onto the field for a 45-yard field goal attempt that had the crowd standing and end zone fans waving their hands. A silence came over Raymond P. Chandler Field as the ball left his foot, but it exploded into screams and celebration as the kick landed five yards short.

“The kids never gave up,” said Maimaron. “To come back after giving up that TD to start the second half was huge. They showed a lot of heart and character, and I’m so proud of my team right now.”