The game had all the excitement of a playoff game, as the winner gained a leg up on the race for a playoff berth. But by nightâ€™s end it was the Duxbury Dragons who were in complete control of their post-season destiny.
Facing Silver Lake in what appeared to be a game that could well determine the Keenan Division champ in the Patriot League standings; the Dragons took away a hard-fought 14-3 win over the Lakers on Homecoming Night in Duxbury last Friday night.
It was a struggle for the Dragons and Coach Dave Maimaron, who had yet to play an opponent that dominated time of possession like the visitors.
After taking the opening kick-off at the 11-yard line, the Lakers proceeded to run 11 plays for 53 yards all the way down to the Duxbury 36, wiping over eight minutes off the clock before punting down to the Dragonsâ€™ three-yard line.
Junior QB Kane Haffey got the start against Silver Lake and had his problems on the opening series, going three and out after a first down that ended with a pair of incomplete passes.
Punting the ball away to the Laker 45, Duxburyâ€™s defense came out after a brief rest and struggled once again to get off the field, as Laker QB Mitch Graziano took his team 40 yards over 13 plays before settling for a field goal with 2:43 left in the half that put Duxbury behind the eight ball for the first time all year.
The Dragons barely touched the ball in the first half, as Silver Lake Coach Dana Battistaâ€™s strategy of running the clock and keeping the ball away from the high-powered Duxbury offense was working to perfection.
When the Dragons finally got the ball back, Maimaron switched to junior QB Matt Oâ€™Keefe, who came out firing and never stopped.
After two incompletions, Oâ€™Keefe hit Matt Hallisey for 10 yards and a first down out to midfield. Another 12-yard strike to Hallisey followed, moving the chains down to the 40 where Oâ€™Keefe executed a perfectly thrown pass down the middle of the field to a wide open Henry Buonagurio, who broke several tackles before dragging his defender into the end zone just 47 seconds after taking possession.
Tucker Hannon came on for the extra point and the Dragons suddenly found themselves ahead, 7-3, with 1:50 left in the half.
The Lakers figured they had had a successful half, only trailing by four, and decided to run out the clock as the half came to a close.
Duxbury hoped to get its offense going in the second half with Haffey at QB after receiving the kick-off. A 19-yard completion to Hallisey on third down put the Dragons at midfield, but SLâ€™s Tommy Lennon made a great interception on a Haffey sideline pass and the Lakers took over on their own 35.
The Lakers went nowhere in three plays and Duxbury regained possession after Silver Lake punted down to the 27-yard line.
A 16-yard completion to Don Webber and an 11-yard connection to Andrew Buron overcame a 15-yard chop block penalty putting the ball at the Laker 40.
A 12-yard completion to Hallisey moved the ball down to the 42-yard line, but three plays later Brendan Connolly was forced to punt again and put the ball out at the 15-yard line.
Faced with third and 12, Graziano stepped up and hit his receiver for a first down, putting the ball at the 26.Â Desperate for the go-ahead score, Graziano dropped back on second down and fired to his left, where defensive back James Burke stepped in front of the receiver and picked off the pass, weaving his way through the Laker secondary and into the right corner of the end zone to give the hosts a 14-3 lead.
Neither team would have much luck the rest of the night, with the most serious threat being a Haffey pass to Buron for 22 yards that took the ball down to the 18 yard line before the drive ended in a missed field goal attempt.
â€œI think we ran eight plays in the first half and fortunately we had the right call at the right time on Buonagurioâ€™s TD,â€ said Maimaron. â€œWe won this game making two plays: that pass and Burkeâ€™s interception. Other than that Silver Lake outplayed us. I give them a lot of credit. They played hard and were able to stop us, but we made the plays when we had to.â€
With an overall record of 8-0 and 3-0 in the Patriot League, the No. 8 ranked Dragons will get ready for Middleboro High School this Friday night at 7 p.m. in Duxbury.