HOLLISTON - The road to the Tri-Valley League title was clear for Holliston - beat Westwood yesterday - but the Wolverines became a roadblock for the Panthers and played the role of spoiler by winning, 28-14.
Westwood saved its best football for the fourth quarter as it held Holliston to 41 yards of offense and went almost exclusively to Matt White (105 yards rushing) to wear down the Panther defensive line.
The back-and-forth contest turned late in the third quarter when Holliston (9-2, 7-2) was looking to break a 14-14 tie but the Westwood defensive line forced the most important turnover of the day.
Matt Shanahan blasted the ball out of running back Matthew Bellomo's hands and Ryan Bowler recovered on the Panthers' 24. Westwood (7-3, 6-3) ended up missing a field goal but got great field position on its subsequent drive when Sean Grandfield returned a punt to the 33. White gave Westwood a 20-14 lead five plays later with an 8-yard touchdown run.
Wolverines quarterback Connor Walsh didn't go to the air very often but made it count when he did. Walsh completed a 34-yard pass to Grandfield in the second quarter before running 1 yard to give Westwood a 7-0 lead.
Walsh went deep again to Grandfield on Westwood's first play of the second half, picking up 39 yards to set up his 1-yard scoring plunge. The senior quarterback sealed the win with his third rushing touchdown, from 7 yards with 2:39 remaining.
"Connor really knows the beat of this team and when to throw the ball," said Westwood coach Paul Hallion said. "He played well today."
The Holliston offense was unable to get into any sort of rhythm. Its only big play was an 84-yard catch by Matt Edwards. The other Panther touchdown came when quarterback Grady Capobianco ran a keeper for a 1-yard touchdown with 2:38 left in the third quarter.
Stopping the Holliston attack begins and ends with containing Bellomo, who had 95 yards rushing but was limited to short gains. Holliston's last gasp came on fourth and 2 with 3:30 left and trailing by just 8, but Bellomo was stopped for no gain by Jay Whalen.
The Panthers were driving in the final moments of the first half but a 14-play drive ended when Grandfield picked off Capobianco with 14 seconds left.
"We weren't able to catch any breaks all day," Holliston coach Todd Kiley said. "That play hurt but there were a bunch of instances where we were one block away from a big gain."