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|Marching to the Super Bowl|
|Monday, 17 November 2008 16:34|
Tornado warnings were issued at the conclusion of Saturday nightâ€™s Patriot Bowl win by the Dragons, but they might as well have been issued prior to the game so Hanover could have sought refuge.
Facing the Indians for the second time this season, sixth-ranked Duxbury over-powered the Fisher Division champions, 47-13, guaranteeing them the Patriot League title in the inaugural Patriot Bowl, and earning them a trip to the Division 2A Super Bowl play-offs that start on Dec. 2.
â€œWe changed a lot of things and added some more stuff on offense and defense this time,â€ said Coach Dave Maimaron. â€œThe first time we played them they did some things we hadnâ€™t seen before, so we were more prepared this time.â€
Having beaten Hanover, 35-6, in their first meeting back in early October, it was hoped that over-confidence wouldnâ€™t be a factor in the Dragonsâ€™ approach. It was hardly the case, as Duxbury stopped the Indians on their first series of the game and proceeded to go 47 yards on six plays, culminating in an 8-yard TD run by Shane Dibona that put the Dragons ahead to stay.
Not only was the Duxbury offense in high gear, but its defense and special teams were outstanding too, as Quinn Cully sacked QB Matt Johnson for a 9-yard loss that forced another Hanover punt and gave Duxbury possession at midfield.
Consecutive first-down runs by Iowa-bound Dibona brought the ball down to the Hanover 27, where Cross was faced with a fourth down and two before hitting tight end Pat McWilliams with an 18-yard pass toward the flag that put the ball on the one-yard line.
A penalty moved the ball back five yards, but on third down Cross found Cully in the corner of the end zone for a 13-0 lead with 6:58 to go in the half.
Even a 15-yard penalty against the Dragons couldnâ€™t do much to energize the Hanover attack, as a crunching tackle by Tyler Genereux and a sack of Johnson by Kyle Gavoni and Chris Norling made it three and out with under four minutes remaining.
Senior Hakeem Lecky fielded Hanoverâ€™s punt at his own 27-yard line, as he started left and cut back to the right, hiding behind a wall of Duxbury blockers and going untouched down the right sideline for a 73-yard return to make it 19-0.
The Indians could do nothing against the Duxbury defense, as Genereux leveled Johnson once again, forcing Hanover to turn the ball over with approximately two minutes to go in the half.
â€œOur defense has been outstanding all year long, and they did it again tonight,â€ said Maimaron. â€œWe have a lot of speed on defense and they get to the ball real quick. They had a lot of trouble blocking us up front.â€
Having been burned by Lecky once, you would have thought Coach Brian King would have insisted his punter kick it away from the fleet Dragon receiver. Whatever his message was, it didnâ€™t get through, as the punt landed in Leckyâ€™s hands once again and he took an identical route for his second return TD of the game, only to have it nullified by a questionable push in the back penalty.
With the ball on its own 30-yard line and 1:50 on the clock, Duxbury went to the air unsuccessfully on its first two downs before turning to Dibona, who ripped off a 20-yard run for a first down at midfield.
Three Dibona runs earned a first down at the 40, setting the stage for a 40-yard TD pass to McWilliams that put the final nail in the Hanover coffin with 18.9 seconds remaining in the half.
Starting the second half with a 26-0 lead, the Dragons were in a hole on their own 2-yard line, but eventually made it out to the 30 before punting to the Hanover 42.
On the first play from scrimmage, senior Nick Hocking hauled in a 44-yard pass to the Duxbury 14, setting up a Matt Hayes TD run after a pass interference call put the ball at the one-yard line.
It didnâ€™t take long for the Dragons to get that one back, as Cross dropped back on first down and spotted Dibona in the right flat. He rolled to his right and hit the senior with a screen pass, watching his teammate weave his way down the right sideline for 69 yards and a 33-6 lead after Startzellâ€™s PAT.
It was all over for the Indians, as they went three and out one more time, but it wasnâ€™t over for Lecky, as he stunned the crowd again with a 55-yard punt return for his second score of the game to make it 40-6 with 2:10 left in the third quarter.
Coach Dave Maimaron unloaded his bench to start the final quarter and Hanover took advantage, marching 72 yards in eight plays with Hocking scoring from five yards out to make it 40-13.
Senior QB Liam Bevins would engineer the final Duxbury drive of the night, and was aided greatly by the running of junior Bobby Murphy, who ripped off runs of 45 and 25 yards that moved the ball deep into Hanover territory.
Faced with a fourth down on the Indianâ€™s 12-yard line, Maimaron sent out Startzell for a 29-yard field goal attempt with Cross holding, rather than rub it in by going for a first down. The snap sailed over everyoneâ€™s head, as Cross went scrambling all the way back to the 37-yard line where he snapped up the ball and took off toward the goal line.
Weaving his way through the onrushing Hanover defense, Cross headed for the left sideline behind a wall of Duxbury blockers, cutting against the grain and across the field before finding an opening for the end zone. Startzellâ€™s PAT split the uprights, and the Dragons walked off with a championship and unbeaten string of 10 games still intact.
The undefeated Dragons will now set their sights on beating Marshfield (9-1) in the annual Thanksgiving Day battle against the Rams at 10 a.m. in Marshfield.