Even though Boston English rode a two-game winning streak into Friday's game at O’Bryant, the one-win Tigers still thought of themselves as the favorites. After all, English endured two winless seasons prior to this fall.
O’Bryant’s overconfidence was evident from the jump as English returned the opening kickoff 63 yards before leading by a touchdown for much of the game. The Tigers (2-3) finally woke up in the final moments of the contest, tying the game with less than two minutes left, before winning in overtime, 22-14.
“We were slacking, we were kind of playing them like they were underdogs,” said junior quarterback Ajani Alfred-McFall , who tossed a 55-yard pass to senior wide receiver Sam Martim to tie the game at 14. “They actually showed some heart. So we showed some more heart.”
After the game-tying touchdown, O'Bryant lined up to kick the extra point but the snap went high and the improvised 2-point conversion failed.
In overtime, the Tigers got the ball first and junior running back Mehki Williams scored the winning 1-yard TD run. Junior quarterback Christian Ransom added the 2-point conversion run before English fumbled the snap on the second play of its overtime possession, picked up by O'Bryant junior defensive end Michael McLean.
McLean said just before the play his coaches told him not to run so fast on his blitzes.
“If it wasn’t for the coaches I don’t know what would’ve happened,” he said. “I probably would’ve run past it. My awareness helped me get that fumbled recovery.”
O’Bryant’s coach Kevin Gadson said he was proud of his team’s fight.
“We wouldn’t give up,” he said. “We never want to give up. We always want to fight, fight, fight till the end. The kids never want to give up and we kept pushing to the end. We’ve been in tough situations before and we did it again.”
Gadosn, who is good friends with English coach, Chris Boswell, said he was impressed with his opponent’s improvement.
“They did a great job, he’s going to turn around that program,” Gadson said. “They look better. The difference was day and night and also they are going to be a lot better as the season goes on.”
English (2-2) was a lot better offensively in the first half than they were in the second.
Senior running back Daquawnn Gunter (74 yards rushing) returned the opening kickoff 63 yards down to the 7-yard line before senior running back Francis Okoyo punched in the 7-yard TD run. The 2-point conversion rush failed.
On the next drive, Ransom capped an eight play O'Bryant drive with a 1-yard TD run. He added the 2-point conversion run to go up 8-6.
After the teams traded fumbles in the second quarter, English High junior QB Dhe’Jour Releford tossed an 11 yard pass to Ruben Pena-Sanchez before Gunter put in the 2-point conversion run to go up 14-8.
“The touchdown, it turned the momentum to our side and it really helped the team,” Pena-Sanchez said. “I saw a lot of confidence in our guys after the score. We do it as a whole. We do it as a team. The ball doesn’t get to me if the line doesn’t block and the quarterback doesn’t throw it right. So it’s a team thing.”
Just before halftime, English shut down a 14-play OB drive that stalled at the 10 yard line when the Tigers failed to convert a reverse on fourth down.
In the second half, English suffered several injuries, including freshman running back
Stanley Vargas who was taken to the hospital with an ankle injury.
"It was tough because we had kids going down with injuries," Boswell said. "They played their butts off. We had a lot of injuries and we still played well.
"It’s disappointing. We’ll take our lumps and Monday we’re right back at it."
Pena-Sanchez said the two game win streak marked a cultural shift in the school’s football program.
“Most of the people out there they say two wins is nothing but for a team that has had a losing streak for two years in a row it’s something special,” he said. “And that’s something no one can take from us.”
O’Bryant still underestimated English’s heart.
“We still thought that they weren’t going to be as challenging and they really surprised us,” Sam Martim said. “We weren’t playing with any intensity in the first half and we came back in the second half a just played.”
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- Justin A. Rice -- A metro Detroit native, Rice is a Michigan State University (Go Spartans!) and Northeastern University graduate. Rice lives in the South End with his dog and wife, who unfortunately attended the University of Michigan ... his wife, that is. He curates the BPS Sports Blog and is always looking to write about city athletes with great stories. Have an idea? He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.
- Zolan Kanno-Youngs -- A former captain of the Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School football team and a current second-year Ujima Scholar at Northeastern University, Kanno-Youngs is the color commentator of the mens basketball team and a writer for Northeastern's campus newspaper, the Huntington News. He joins Boston.com as a correspondent for the site's BPS coverage. Have a story idea? Contact him at KannoYoungs.Globe@gmail.com. Follow him on his Twitter @KannoYoungs.