Senior QB Matt O’Keefe threw three touchdown passes and ran for two more, as the Dragons grabbed a 28-7 halftime lead and were never in any trouble in their 42-19 win over No. 15 ranked New Bedford on Saturday afternoon in Duxbury.
It was slated to be Duxbury’s biggest test of the young season, as they were facing New Bedford QB Myles Medeiros, who had been named a Boston Globe “Player of The Week” after his 3-TD pass performance against Silver Lake the previous week, making him the No. 2 passer in Massachusetts.
Like most teams on the Duxbury schedule, New Bedford had yet to see such a dominating defense like the Dragons. With the shifty and speedy Marcel DePina in the backfield, and the speed-burning Jaraud Wood at receiver, the Duxbury secondary was prepared for a busy afternoon.
But as everyone has seen so far, the Dragons’ secondary, led by senior co-captains James Burke (5 tackles) and Reilly Naton (5 tackles), along with the outstanding play of senior Andrew Padula (4 tackles), shut the New Bedford offense down in the first quarter along with pressure up front from linebacker Jay McDermott (5 tackles), linebacker Marshal McCarthy (5 tackles) and the defensive line.
Forcing the Whalers to punt on their first series, the Dragons took over on their own 47-yard line. A 15-yard run by junior Jon Hurvitz and an 11-yard run by Burke took the ball immediately down to the 31. One play later O’Keefe found Burke cruising through the NB secondary and led him with a beautiful pass that put him on his way to a 31-yard TD reception.
Tucker Hannon’s PAT split the uprights and the hosts were ahead 7-0 midway through the first quarter.
“We really tried to run our offense at a quick pace and hope that our conditioning would help us out. The way Matt executed today was phenomenal,” said Coach Dave Maimaron.
It was another three and out for the Whalers deep in their own territory and their punt barely made it to the 35-yard line. It was another break for the Dragons, as O’Keefe rumbled for 13 yards on a keeper, but gave five of it back on a penalty at the 27. Little did it matter, as O’Keefe found junior Joe Guilfoile (2 rec./33 yds) for 27 yards and a 14-0 lead.
New Bedford came right back, and aided by a 15-yard penalty, went 68 yards in seven plays, ending in a seven-yard TD run by Medeiros that cut the margin to 14-7.
Opponents have learned it’s not nice to score on the Duxbury defense, and the riled up Dragons took just seven plays to get the points back. A nine-yard pass to Andrew Buron (5 rec./69 yds.) highlighted the drive (67 yards) and O’Keefe ended it with a nice fake that sent the Whalers one way, while he went off right tackle for the score.
Trailing 21-7 with 4:40 remaining in the half, the Whalers could ill afford to suffer any more mistakes. The urgency of the situation seemed to rattle the visitors, as they started at midfield and six plays and three penalties later New Bedford was stuffed on a fourth-down gamble at its own 38.
“We just covered. We brought some heat sometimes and other times we dropped back,” said Maimaron. “Andrew Padula did a great job on Wood throughout the game.”
It was now time for Duxbury Coach Dave Maimaron to dig into his bag of tricks. This time he picked a beauty, as wide receiver Don Webber ended up with the ball on a double reverse and fired down the right sideline to Naton, who took it down to the nine-yard line. Four players later O’Keefe took it over left guard for a 28-7 lead with 35 seconds left in the half.
Nothing seemed to be working for New Bedford, so Coach Dennis Golden tried an onside kick to start the second half. Senior Seamus Connelly made an outstanding play, as he corralled the kick with a horde of Whalers bearing down on him at the Duxbury 45.
“That was a huge football play,” said Maimaron. “He made a big play that we were able to capitalize on and it was a huge momentum swing.”
It took just six plays for the Dragons to get in the end zone again, as sophomore Khai Perry (5 carries/20 yds.) bulled his way in from three yards out after Buron kept the drive going with three receptions for 54 yards.
It was too little too late for the Whalers midway through the third quarter, as Medeiros finally hooked up with the speedy Wood for a 49-yard TD pass.
Despite a 35-13 lead, the Dragons offense wouldn’t give up, as O’Keefe launched a 30-yard first down pass to Naton, and followed it with consecutive completions to Buron and Guilfoile. A 25-yard pass to Weber took the ball to the five, where two plays later Perry took it in from eight yards out for a 42-13 lead.
Sophomore Sean McCarthy would take over for O’Keefe to start the fourth quarter, as the regulars were rested in preparation for next Saturday’s Patriot League opener with Whitman-Hanson scheduled for 3:30 p.m. The game has been switched to Saturday afternoon because EEE is still in effect.
“We knew they were a good team and we had to stop Medeiros, Wood, and DePIna,” said Maimaron. “You can try to come at us or go over the top of us and they really never went over the top. Our defense was good and our guys were tough to cover, so we were on for sure today.”