By Jason Mastrodonato
BELMONT — This wasn’t simply a poor offensive performance. Putting the flame out on the Proctor Academy (N.H.) rushing game was thought to have taken more than a few buckets of water.
Before Saturday’s 34-16 loss to Suffield Academy (Conn.) in the Norm Walker Bowl at Belmont Hill, the lowest total the Hornets posted all season came in a 36-0 win over Kents Hill in Week 1, when they were still shaking off dust. They had scored more points per game (47) than any team in the Evergreen League and every team in Eastern Massachusetts.
Saturday, Drew Gamere’s Suffield team (8-1) just brought it on Proctor (8-1).
Directing a defensive line full of look-alikes from the World’s Strongest Man competition, Gamere, who grew up in Brookline and went to Brookline High before playing a postgraduate year at Suffield in 1993, had the Tigers plugging gaps, bulldozing offensive linemen and putting a hurt on anyone who held the ball in Proctor’s renowned running game.
“That is no doubt, without a question, the best defense we’ve seen all year,’’ said Hornets coach Ben Rulli. “In fact, that’s the best team we’ve seen all year.”
It didn’t help that Suffield junior running back Brice McAllister broke two of his team’s first three offensive plays for long touchdowns, putting the Tigers out to a quick 13-0 lead.
Here and there, Proctor had opportunities.
After a poor snap on a Suffield punt resulted in a safety, the next punt put the Hornets just 41 yards away from paydirt. But they fumbled the ball away three plays later.
A crafty halfback pass call on fourth and inches from the 1-yard line got Proctor within 4 points before halftime.
But the Hornets’ two third-quarter possessions ended with a lost fumble and then a forced punt after Chad Woodfine sacked quarterback Sam Barrett for a 10-yard loss.
“Our coach tells us every week that we put money in the bank, and today we had to cash out,” Woodfine said.
On offense, it was all McAllister, who rushed for 148 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries and added an 87-yard touchdown reception from Jake Lazarus on the first play from scrimmage.
McAllister spent last season at wide receiver before Gamere gave him a chance at running back this fall. In nine games, the 5-11, 190-pound junior from East Longmeadow rushed for more than 1,600 yards and 27 touchdowns.
The Tigers went 5-19 from 2006-08 before the program turned over to Gamere, who had been an assistant coach and advisor at Brookline.
Suffield has since gone 41-3 since, making five straight bowl appearances ( winning four of them) to tie a New England Championship record.
“I would say I walked into a great situation where we had young guys that were hungry and ready to win,” Gamere said.