9-18-2012: Byfield, MA: Governor's Academy quarterback Tate Jozokos is pictured at a practice session at the school. section: spts (Globe Staff Photo/Jim Davis
Governor's Academy quarterback Tate Jozokos, shown above at a team practice session, ran the ball 15 times against Thayer Academy for 170 yards and four touchdowns.
The Boston Globe

It was a battle in Byfield Saturday afternoon, but the defending ISL champions prevailed, defeating Thayer Academy, 49-43.

Governor’s Academy coach Jim O’Leary said he was preparing his team for the matchup all week, and rightfully so.

Despite Governor’s 15-point lead at halftime, Thayer battled back in the second half and tied the score, 43-43, midway through the fourth quarter. A 15-play drive for Thayer was capped by running back Aaron Gilmer, who punched in his second touchdown of the game.

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With just more than five minutes remaining, Elijah Morrissey and Tate Jozokos took over, leading Governor’s 62 yards in just six plays.

Jozokos punched in a 1-yard touchdown run to give the Governors the lead once again, but the PAT was blocked, making it 49-43.

Thayer needed to get the ball in the end zone one more time and kick the extra point, something it had no trouble doing all afternoon.

Thayer started at its 15-yard line with just more than two minutes left. Jack Becker and Bryan Vieira (three touchdown receptions) did their best, but couldn’t come up with a big play on the final drive.

The Governor’s defense made four crucial stops and forced a turnover on downs to secure the victory.

Jozokos, the reigning ISL MVP, led the way for the Governors in the first half, scoring a 36-yard touchdown run and breaking a 66-yarder down the sideline.

Jozokos carried 15 times for 170 yards and four touchdowns.

However, the Governors’ game plan changed a bit in the second half, as Morrissey took over the attack. They ran 27 plays in the half, 15 runs by Morrissey. The commanding running back finished the afternoon with 23 carries for 178 yards and two touchdowns.

“I think he’s the toughest guy in the league,” O’Leary said. “That kid is just amazing the way he runs the ball.”

Gilmer scored Thayer’s first and last touchdowns, but Governor’s turned two Thayer fumbles into touchdowns.

Thayer coach Jeff Toussaint said the loss will actually give his team confidence.

“In some ways it’s better to play in a game like this and lose the way we did, than play a weak team and win easily.”

On the other side, O’Leary, who is 10-0 at Governor’s, smiled and looked at his championship ring, saying it was his good luck charm.

But Governor’s graduated 11 seniors and know that defending its title is not going to be easy.

“Last season was last season, that’s over,” said Morrissey. “We have a lot of work to do.’’

we’re a totally different team, but we’re all focused, motivated and confident, especially after a game like this.”

BB&N 12, Belmont Hill 10 — Sophomore quarterback Cole O’Connor guided a fourth-quarter comeback for the Knights by scoring from 3 yards, then finding Brendan O’Neil for a 7-yard pass for the go-ahead score. O’Connor was 13-for-21 passing for 220 yards.

St. Sebastian’s 48, Nobles 21 — Brendan Daly rushed for 105 yards on 15 carries and a touchdown to lead the visiting Arrows. St. Sebastian’s scored five straight touchdowns to open the game and had a 41-8 lead at the half. Ryan Vultaggio had two touchdown passes for Nobles.

Roxbury Latin 33, Brooks 10 — Khalif Mitchell ran for 109 yards and two touchdowns and host Roxbury Latin rolled to a 27-0 halftime lead in their opener. Boston College-bound quarterback Mackay Lowrie threw three TD passes, two to Sean Meyers.

Middlesex 21, St. Mark’s 20 — In its first home night game, Middlesex won as Nick Andonian was 26-of-39 passing for 261 yards and two touchdowns. Mark Upton scored twice for St. Mark’s.

St. Paul’s 30, Rivers 14 — Richard Bradley rushed for two touchdowns to help his team pick up the win.

Milton Academy 27, Lawrence Academy 21 — Drew Jacobs rushed for 120 yards on 16 carries with two touchdowns, Nick Bland had five catches for 57 yards, and Justin Yoon kicked four field goals.

Groton 10, St. George’s 0 — Joe Gentile scored the lone touchdown with a 1-yard rush.