The way things are going, it appears that only an act of God can derail the Duxbury Dragons from going through the regular season schedule unscathed.
The Almighty tried one of his tactics on Friday afternoon in Whitman, whipping up winds with gusts up to 40 mph in hopes of killing off the Dragonsâ€™ passing attack and putting Duxburyâ€™s winning streak in jeopardy. Few times does he fail, and this was one of them.
Using the running of junior Henry Buonagurio (2 TDs), the passing of junior Matt Oâ€™Keefe (one TD pass), and the larceny of senior defensive back Adam Martin (26 yard interception return for TD), the Dragons showed they can win in a variety of ways in their 28-0 shutout over Whitman-Hanson.
It was the most important win of the season for Duxbury, as it was the Dragonsâ€™ first Patriot League win in the Keenan Division, which they must win in order to get into postseason play.
Duxbury took the opening kick-off and started with great field position at its own 43-yard line. It took only five plays for the Dragons to go 57 yards, the two biggest being an end around to Don Webber for 27 yards and an 18-yard keeper by Oâ€™Keefe. It all ended when Buonagurio went off left tackle and into the end zone. Tucker Hannonâ€™s PAT made it 7-0 less than three minutes into the game.
On Whitman-Hansonâ€™s first series, sophomore Marshall McCarthy made a great third-down tackle that forced a Panther punt to the Duxbury 44.
A 13-yard keeper by Oâ€™Keefe and a five-yard jaunt by Buonagurio quickly had the ball down to the W-H 36 where Oâ€™Keefe hit Webber for 15 yards on a perfectly executed slant. Two plays later Oâ€™Keefe dropped back and lofted a pass deep into the corner of the end zone, connecting with Webber, who blew past his defender and picked the ball out of the air for Duxburyâ€™s second score of the game.
The Duxbury defense was immense, stopping every Panther drive, including their second that advanced all the way down to the Duxbury eight-yard line with five minutes left in the half.
The Duxbury offense would get two more opportunities before the half ended, but both times the drives sputtered when the wind affected Oâ€™Keefeâ€™s effectiveness.
A big sack by senior Nick Mann killed Whitman-Hansonâ€™s opening drive of the second half, forcing a punt to the Duxbury 49-yard line.
Oâ€™Keefe directed an 11-play drive featuring a 15-yard pass to Matt Hallisey, only to have it stall at the 15 on three incomplete passes.
The Panthers would move the ball out to the 40 where they were forced to punt, sending the ball down to the Duxbury 34 as the third quarter ended.
Sent back to the 35 on a penalty after an 11-yard gain by Buonagurio, Duxbury began its march once again. An 11-yard reception by Webber and a 12-yard keeper by Oâ€™Keefe had the offense back in sync at the W-H 41. Oâ€™Keefe then dropped back and spotted a streaking Hallisey running straight up the seam of the defense where he found him for 33 yards and a first down.
Two plays later Buonagurio was into the end zone from three yards out and Duxbury was in possession of a 21-0 lead.
Desperate to get on the scoreboard, the Panthers went to the air against Dragons, but Martin stepped in front of the receiver on the visiting sideline and picked off the pass, rumbling down the sideline and into the end zone for a 25-yard TD return. Hannonâ€™s PAT made it 28-0 with 6:34 left in the game and the benches emptied shortly after.
â€œWe started off great, but we had a little lull in the middle of the game,â€ said coach Dave Maimaron. â€œOverall they did a nice job preparing for our first league game and I was very happy with the effort. The wind was knocking the ball all over the place, but every time we ran the ball we had success on the ground. Weâ€™ve been able to throw the ball all year long, but those are the things you have to get used to once you get into November and December.â€
Oâ€™Keefe had a big day at the controls for Duxbury, running 13 times for 90 yards and completing 9 of 24 passes for 130 yards on an extremely windy playing field. Webber continued his outstanding season, catching five passes for 67 yards and a TD, while Hallisey returned to action with three catches for 52 yards.
On the other side of the ball, Marshall McCarthy led the Dragons with nine tackles and five assisted tackles for a total of 14, while linebacker Max Randall (9/3) and James Burke (7/5) contributed 12 each.