When Brian Vaughan took over Boston English’s football program last spring, he didn’t exactly expect the sentiment on the “Beat Latin” T-shirts he printed up to become a prophecy. And he could’ve never imagined beating Boston Latin for only the second time since 1981 on a last-second touchdown pass.
But English’s 14-12 victory at Harvard Stadium in the 127th playing of the nation’s oldest continuous high school football rivalry will go down in history for just that scenario.
“Let’s be honest, that was just to motivate kids,” Vaughan said of the T-shirts.
His 7-4 English squad was the first to go into Thanksgiving with a winning record since 2004 and the first to be victorious against their historic rival since 1997.
“It’s huge, it’s a great step in the direction we want to bring the program,” said Vaughan, who coached Pope John in Everett the last four years after coaching and playing for Lynn English. “We’re not exactly where we want to be but we’re heading that way and this was huge for putting us in the direction we want to be.”
With 14 seconds to play, senior wide receiver Dejour Releford took a lateral pass from junior Emmanuel Almonte and tossed a 38-yard reception to senior Jerome Penn that put English on the 7-yard-line with 3 seconds to go. Then, with no time left on the clock, Releford caught a TD pass from Almonte to secure the victory.
“It’s all about one catch, one catch can make the difference,” said Releford, who finished with 27 yards on four receptions. “If feels good. Everybody is happy. We ended the streak so that is always a good feeling.”
The game-winning catch capped a 13-play, 78-yard drive that started with 4:33 left in the game. Almonte (9 of 18 for 51 yards) completed three passes on the drive, including scrambling before tossing a 6-yard pass to Ruben Pena-Sanchez on 4th-and-5 from the 27.
English was also hampered by a holding penalty the play before its trick play set up the winning TD.
“It means the world … we didn’t make the playoffs,” Almonte said after receiving MVP honors, “it hurt us, and our goal was to win this game. And even though it took until the last second, we did it.”
After getting beaten 15 straight years, mostly by blowouts, on Thanksgiving, holding Latin (5-6) scoreless in the first half would have been a major accomplishment for English.
Latin didn't score until sophomore running back Justin Springle put the Wolfpack up 6-0 on a 3-yard TD with 3:55 left in the third. Almonte, who also plays defensive back, broke up the 2-point conversion pass.
When English starting senior running back Jodarnio Seide (45 yards on nine carries) was sidelined with a hand injury with 2:16 left in the third quarter, junior running back Darious Boodoosingh (45 yards on 10 carries) punched home a 6-yard TD run with 57 seconds left in the quarter. Almonte ran in the 2-pointer conversion to go up 8-6.
“I just had to work hard when I got in the game and you know, I just did me,” Seide said.
Five plays later Latin quarterback Roy Bahnam (7 for 18 with 114 yards) tossed a 14-yard TD to Jack O’Toole to go up 12-8 with 10:06 to play.
“Good for English,” longtime Latin coach John McDonough said. “Good for them. We don’t want to make them feel good, but that’s our problem. They took care of business. It was a good football game.”
Legendary coach Tom Lamb joined English’s program as an assistant in 2011.
“This is our dream,” a hoarse Lamb said. “We couldn’t have written it any better.”
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