Coach Dave Maimaron couldn’t have found a better way for his Dragons to get ready for this Friday night’s Patriot League title game with Hingham. Using a stifling defense and a record-setting six TD passes from Matt O’Keefe (21 for 28/251 yds./6 TDs) , his Dragons overwhelmed Hanover, 49-0, on Friday night in Duxbury.
Stopping Hanover on its first series, Duxbury then took Nick Ellicone’s punt at its own 40-yard line and marched 60 yards in 11 plays to grab a 7-0 lead on the first of O’Keefe’s TD passes.
O’Keefe was hitting on all cylinders, as he found senior Don Webber (4 rec./44 yds./ 2 TDs) on his opening drive for a 10-yard TD strike with 6:38 left in the first quarter.
With Duxbury’s defense holding the Indians to just one yard on their next three plays, the Dragons’ special teams tacked on another score when the snap went over Ellicone’s head, allowing senior James Burke (4 tackles) to block the punt and junior Marshall McCarthy (5 tackles) to pick it up and waltz into the end zone for a 14-0 lead after Tucker Hannon’s second PAT.
Try as they might to pass on the Duxbury defense, it was to no avail, as it was another three and out for the Hanover offense that forced another Ellicone punt that just made it out to the Hanover 36.
Putting the Dragons into scoring territory proved damaging, as a 31-yard pass to Andrew Buron (2 rec./40 yds.) and a five-yard TD toss to Joe Guilfoile (6 rec./40 yds.) gave Duxbury a 21-0 lead with 2:29 left in the first quarter.
Hanover had no answer for a stubborn Duxbury defense, and it was three and out once more, as their punt left Duxbury just 43 yards away from pay dirt.
This time it took O’Keefe just six plays for his third TD pass of the game when he hit Reilly Naton (5 rec./71 yds.) for a 28-yard pass to the one-yard line and followed it with a one-yard out pattern to Guilfoile and a 28-0 lead.
The Duxbury defense led by senior LB Max Randall (8 tackles), senior Seamus Connelly (6 tackles), and junior Owen Grey (6 tackles) continued to smother Hanover’s ground game, as they gained just two yards in three plays and their weak punt put Duxbury on the Indian 30-yard line.
A nine-yard pass to “Little” Jonnie Hurvitz on third down kept the Duxbury drive going, and a 13-yard completion to Guilfoile took the ball down to the two-yard line where O’Keefe hit Burke for his fourth TD pass of the game with 5:43 left in the half.
Hanover had few options but to try and keep the ball away from O’Keefe, so they went for it on fourth down and failed once again, turning the ball over to the Dragons at the 45-yard line.
O’Keefe was on fire and connected for six straight completions, moving the ball from midfield with a pair of passes to Guilfoile, one completion to Webber, and three connections with Naton that resulted in O’Keefe’s fifth TD toss of the evening for a 42-0 lead with seconds left in the half.
Having deferred on the first-half coin toss, the Dragons took the second-half kickoff and continued to run and pass over the Indians.
Starting at their own 48-yard line on a terrific kick return by Naton, the Dragons went 47 yards on a nine-yard scamper by Hurvitz and a 38-yard completion to Burke. Three plays later O’Keefe established a new DHS passing record with his sixth TD-pass of the game when he hit a sliding Webber over the middle in the end zone on a seven-yard completion.
With eight minutes left in the third quarter and holding a 49-0 lead, Maimaron had seen enough and summoned freshman Liam Stauss out of the stands and into his uniform to guide the Dragons for the rest of the second half.
With junior Colin Johnson and sophomore J.P. O’Neil in the backfield, a holding call nullified a brilliant O’Neill TD run, bringing the ball back and highlighting a bulldozing run by senior offensive tackle Gordon Acha, who did his best impression of William “The Refrigerator” Perry by rumbling over right guard for a couple of yards.
“We kept everything pretty basic tonight,” said Maimaron. “We executed well, ran the ball well, and caught it well. We got rid of the drops we had last week and our defense played great tonight with the shutout.”
The win should have the Dragons pumped up for Friday night’s big game with Hingham for the Patriot League Keenan Division title and a chance at a Division 2 Super Bowl playoff berth. Hingham is bringing in portable lights for a 6 p.m. start in anticipation of a huge crowd.
“Hingham is a very good team and they have plenty of skill guys,” said Maimaron. “They seem to be getting stronger as the season goes on and we’ll have our hands full.”