Having won nine games in a row, including their 17-7 Thanksgiving Day win over the Marshfield Rams, the Dragons had good vibes that a return trip to Gillette Stadium for the Division 2A championship game was in the cards.

With a defense that had stifled the Marshfield running game, and a Ram offense that showed no signs of a passing attack, everything seemed to be falling in place for Duxbury.

However, the game took a bad turn for the Dragons early on and kept them struggling the rest of the evening, as they dropped a 27-6 decision to the Rams, ending their season and any hopes of repeating as Super Bowl champions.

It didn’t take long for the Rams to make that loss on Turkey Day seem like a distant memory, as they opened the game with a 79-yard completion from QB Stephan Sousa to split end Mackenzie Dwyer, putting the ball at the Duxbury nine-yard line.

“We’ve been playing man-to-man all year long and we bit on it and they hit it,” said Duxbury Coach Dave Maimaron. “It was a tough way to start.”

Three plays later Sousa took it into the end zone to give Marshfield a 7-0 lead after Sean Griffith’s extra point split the uprights.

Turnovers would be a big part of the loss, and they cost the Dragons dearly, as a Bobby Murphy fumble on Duxbury’s first possession killed a drive that saw Duxbury moving aggressively on the ground.

Duxbury went to the air on its next possession and QB Kane Haffey got off to a rough start, misfiring on his first three throws and setting up a fourth down punt. Riley Naton was uncovered on the left side, as Matt Savard took the snap and fired to the uncovered Naton, who took it down field for a first down to the Marshfield 28-yard line.

The drive stalled after Haffey was sacked on third down, and punter Ben Startzell nailed a punt down to the Rams’ 11-yard line to end the quarter.

The Duxbury defense smothered the Rams and forced a punt, with Matt Hallisey returning it 16 yards to the Marshfield 24. Three running plays went nowhere, and Startzell game on and boomed a 42-yard field goal to make the score 7-3.

The Dragons continued their defensive pressure, as C.J. Cote knocked down a pair of Sousa passes and sophomore linebacker Max Randall sacked Sousa for a six-yard loss.

Duxbury looked like it was about to take the lead when Savard ripped off a 60-yard punt return all the way down to the Marshfield 20. Three plays later Startzell was on the field again, this time hitting a 37-yard field goal to cut the margin to 7-6 at halftime.

The second half started with Duxbury sticking to its running game, as Savard was being double-teamed and Haffey was under intense pressure every time he dropped back.

Moving into Marshfield territory, the Dragons were faced with a fourth and five. Coach Dave Maimaron went for it at the 37-yard line and watched as Murphy was stuffed for a two-yard gain.

The Duxbury defense was proving just as effective, as J.B.Marston stopped Griffith for a four-yard loss on third down, forcing another Ram punt. Hallisey was back deep and misjudged the ball as it landed at his feet and bounced away into the arms of three Marshfield defenders.

“We had miscues on special teams that really hurt us,” said Maimaron.

Four plays later the Rams were in the end zone, as Sousa hit tight end Connor Admirand with a pass that had the Duxbury coaching staff on the field protesting an illegal formation to no avail.

Trailing 13-6, Duxbury kept trying to get Haffey back on track. His passes continued to miss the mark and Duxbury was faced with another fourth down. Startzell came on to punt and took a low snap from center, deciding to run the ball out of trouble instead of taking a chance and kicking it away.

The Rams were on him in seconds and took the ball over on the Duxbury 30-yard line.

Burke broke up a pass on the goal line to keep the Rams out, and Griffith came on to nail a 28-yard field goal for a 16-6 lead with 9:49 left in the game. Flags were flying and they were against Duxbury, giving Marshfield Coach Lou Silva a chance to take three points off the board and start a drive at the seven on first down.

It took just two carries for Rob MacNeill to give the Rams a commanding 20-6 lead with 9:10 to go.

There was still time for Duxbury to get back in the game, but Mike Williams knocked down a fourth-down pass attempt to Hallisey.

The Rams decided to work the clock by staying on the ground and had little success until their punt pinned Duxbury back on its own one-yard line.

Haffey took a vicious hit and had to leave the game, opening the gates for sophomore QB Matt O’Keefe to engineer a comeback bid. He was cold and ineffective, forcing Maimaron to go for it on fourth down with scoring being a must.

The incomplete pass gave the ball to Marshfield on the one, allowing MacNeill to trot in for his second TD of the game and a Super Bowl berth on Saturday.

Murphy led the way for Duxbury with 98 yards on 21 carries, while MacNeill racked up 58 yards on 10 carries with two TDs for the Rams.