Tough Thanksgiving loss 26-13
By Steev Riccardo
The Southbridge Pioneers made it four straight Thanksgiving morning wins over the Bartlett Indians with a 26-13 victory in Southbridge in the 91st meeting of the two teams.
It was a brisk morning but the turnout was good and the atmosphere exciting as the long time rivals battled for supremacy and playoff spots in the third longest rivalry in Central Mass.
Following a couple of defensive stops by each team, the Pioneers got a big play from Senior star Jamie Ortiz who scampered 43 yards for the first score of the game. George Rivera added the extra point and the home team was up 7-0.
The Indians fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Rahann Perez picked up the ball in the end zone, giving the Pioneers a quick score that seemed to deflate the Indians and stun the visiting crowd. Before you could blink it was 14-0 with 5 minutes left in the opening quarter.
Indian Head Coach Dane Laboissonniere was as stunned as everyone else. “We came out asleep and we didn’t get off the bus and the problem was that we spotted them 14 points and you can’t spot a good team 14 points.”
Still, the Indians battled back, as they have all year. A nice kickoff return by Rocco DiStefano gave them great field position at midfield.
DiStefano, rattled off another strong run of 17 yards which set up a nifty16-yard toss from Ricky Spooner to Connor McCarthy to put the visitors on the board. Despite failing on the two-point convertion, the Indians were alive and had some momentum at 14-6.
The celebration didn’t last long for the Indians as the Pioneers’ thousand-yard rusher Bart Chenevert took over and carried the ball on six of the next seven plays for the Pioneers. His seventh carry was a four-yard touchdown run that gave his team a huge 20-6 lead.
DiStefano’s solid running and a roughing-the-passer penalty put the Indians in scoring position again. This time DJ Kirby-Thomas, who the Pioneers’ defense was keying on, barreled in from 12 yards out for a score and the Indians were in business. Thomas booted the extra point and it was 20-13 with 5 minutes left in the half.
The Pioneers were not to be denied. This time they went to Ortiz on seven straight possessions, the big one being a pass from sophomore quarterback Jason Peck for 23 yards. Once they were at the one-yard line, they let Chenevert run it in and the Indians trailed 26-13 at half time.
The second half was a scoreless defensive struggle and a game of ball control that the Pioneers excelled at. The Indians did, however, have some chances to get back in the game including one key play.
The Indians were crushed by an inadvertent whistle late in the fourth quarter on a hook and ladder play which looked like a sure touchdown.
Spooner hit David Brooks with a pass, who was in the process of lateraling the ball to DiStefano, when the referee blew the whistle. It looked like DiStefano had a clear field in front of him. “That was six points.” said Laboissonniere. “Rocco in full stride heading down the sideline and that one set us back because at that point we were still in it. I thought we had a touchdown. It was hard to come back with a few minutes left without that score.”
The Pioneers rode Chenevert the rest of the way and ran the clock down. “We needed defensive stops and we didn’t get them and they winded the clock down.”
“We came back and we battled, you got to be proud of the kids the way they played. It hurts to take the loss and I am sure that the seniors didn’t envision it ending up this way,” said a disappointed Laboissonniere.
“This is not the way we envisioned the regular season ending, but hopefully we can move on and play some bonus football and make the best of that.”
Chenevert was outstanding for the Pioneers with 119 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns, carrying the ball 24 times and earning the game’s MVP award.
DiStefano and Thomas did not have their usual rushing numbers, running for 77 and 57 yards respectively, but played with heart and battled until the end. Spooner also played well in defeat for the Indians, throwing a touchdown pass and showing some poise for a sophomore in a losing cause.
The 7-4 Indians played hard and never gave up but were beaten by a very strong team and were now looking ahead to the playoffs.
- Saturday, 26 November 2011
- Posted in Categories: : Sports