Needing a win to capture the Keenan Division of the Patriot League, and thereby earn a trip to the Patriot Bowl championship and a potential spot in the Division 2A Super Bowl playoffs, the Dragons hung tough for a 17-7 win over Silver Lake on Friday night in Duxbury.
A jam-packed crowd was on hand in hopes of seeing the Dragons continue their unbeaten streak at nine games, and they werenâ€™t disappointed, as Duxbury took the opening kick-off and moved down the field quickly when QB Sean Cross hit Steve Ripley (2/60 yards) on a 47-yard pass on the second play of the opening series that put the ball at the Silver Lake 18-yard line.
Three plays later the Dragons faced a fourth and two from the 10-yard line, but eschewed a Ben Startzell field goal attempt from 27 yards out, and were stuffed for no gain and forced to turn the ball over with 7:10 left in the quarter.
The Lakers came out with the intention of running between the tackles, but had little success in their first drive, punting the ball away and giving the Dragons great field position at the Duxbury 48-yard line.
â€œWe kind of expected that coming into the game,â€ said Coach Dave Maimaron.
A Shane Dibona (17/83 yards) run for seven yards, a 13-yard toss to Matt Savard, and a 10-yard holding penalty had the ball at the 32 when Cross spotted Quinn Cully for 25 yards and a first down at the Silver Lake 17.
But once again Maimaron went for it, as his team faced a fourth down on the 13-yard line and came up inches short.
â€œHindsight is 20/20 and we probably should have kicked the ball, but we felt we could move the ball on them,â€ said the Duxbury coach. â€œThey would have had to go about 90 yards to score and the way our defense plays it allows us to take chances like that.â€
Joseph Ignagni would help the Lakers get out of trouble with a 27-yard run, but the drive stalled, as the Dragons took over on their own 13-yard line after a punt.
A Cross pass to Hakeem Lecky (3/49 yards) for 18 yards took the ball out to the 37, and a Cross run of eight yards moved it to the 45 where the Duxbury QB uncorked a potential TD pass that was dropped, forcing Duxbury to punt for one of the few times in recent weeks.
Neither team could get anything going on its next series, as the Lakers ended up with the ball on their own 25-yard line with 2:02 left in the half.
On second down, QB Mitch Graziano rolled to his right and fired in the flat, only to have linebacker Chris Norling step in front of the pass and pick it off at the Silver Lake 40 with 1:10 on the clock.
It was a golden opportunity for the Dragons, and they didnâ€™t let it go to waste, as Cross spotted a wide-open Pat McWilliams down the middle of the field for a 35-yard gain to the five.
There seemed little doubt that the call would go to Dibona, but it took three tries and another decision by Maimaron to go for it on fourth down before the senior back slammed it over left tackle with no time remaining for a 7-0 halftime lead after Startzellâ€™s PAT.
The game was too close for comfort for the Dragons, who have normally been ahead at the half by a couple of TDs in most of their games. But it took just three downs for Duxbury to give themselves some breathing room when Ian Whitney (2/45 yds.) hauled in a 41-yard TD pass from Cross. Startzellâ€™s PAT was good to give the hosts a 14-0 lead.
It was looking good for the Dragons when Startzell boomed his kick into the end zone, but the Lakers werenâ€™t dead yet, as they marched 80 yards in 15 plays while taking 10 more minutes off the clock.
Silver Lake tried an onsides kick trailing 14-7, but the attempt failed, putting the Dragons on their own 45-yard line with 10:13 left in the game.
A Dibona three-yard run proved costly for the Lakers, who were hit with a personal foul penalty that moved the ball down to the visitorâ€™s 38. On the next play Cross hit Lecky over the middle for 20 yards and a first down at the Laker 18.
Another Lecky reception had the ball at the seven, but three plays later Maimaron was forced into a fourth down once again, and wisely put insurance points on the board with a 20-yard Startzell field goal to wrap up the Division title.
â€œSilver Lake did a nice job of executing and containing us. I think that was the fewest points weâ€™ve scored all year, except for Bridgewater-Raynham. This was for the league title and we expected a tough game,â€ said Maimaron.
Duxbury will now take on Fisher Division champion Hanover HS on Saturday at 5 p.m. at Whitman-Hanson HS for a shot at the Super Bowl playoffs.