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Chelmsford 23, Marshfield 20 | DIVISION 1A

Can't-miss kids: Lions kings at last

Email|Print| Text size + By Ricky Popolizio
Globe Correspondent / December 2, 2007

FOXBOROUGH - It was a familiar sight - Chris Smart lined up for a field goal, Mike Murphy awaiting the snap, and the scoreboard showing a tie score, 20-20, with 14 seconds left on the clock.

Then Smart, who had kicked the deciding 26-yard field goal as time expired in the win over Wayland in the semifinals, duplicated his heroics from 21 yards, lifting Chelmsford over Marshfield, 23-20, at Gillette Stadium yesterday for its first Super Bowl victory since 1994.

"It was more like a PAT," said Smart. "I had to put my team up."

The snap was low and Murphy, who entered the game for the first time since he was shaken up on an awkward fall midway through the third quarter, settled it for Smart.

"I had to reach down. It almost hit me in the knee," Murphy said.

"That's a team for you," said Chelmsford coach Bruce Rich. "Those kids stepped up. [Smart] is the most poised athlete I've seen under pressure."

Marshfield has lost its last four Super Bowls after winning its first three.

"I guess it just wasn't in the cards," said Marshfield coach Lou Silva. "I thought we had Rich but he was a tough competitor. The kids played their hearts out and represented Marshfield well."

For Chelmsford, which had dropped its previous four trips to the big game, the win also marked the high point of the Rich family quarterback tradition.

Senior Tim Rich, the youngest of Coach Rich's three sons, became the first to celebrate a Super Bowl victory. Eddie and Bruce, who were on hand yesterday, led Chelmsford to four undefeated regular seasons but couldn't overcome Acton-Boxboro in three Super Bowls (2002, '03, '04).

"It doesn't get old," said Bruce Rich. "[Tim] doesn't look pretty but he gets the job done. He does things you just can't coach."

Rich (21 for 34, 268 yards, 3 TDs, and 23 carries for 119 yards), who led the Lions back from a 17-0 halftime deficit against Wayland, had his team up, 20-7, at halftime before Marshfield's dominant defense came to life.

Chelmsford, which had forced a fumble on the Rams' first drive of the second half after they had driven to the 8-yard line, drove 95 yards from its 4 to the Marshfield 1 before Rich fumbled on a sneak attempt. Brad Poirier (11 carries, 131 yards, 2 TDs) recovered the fumble, reviving Marshfield and its crowd.

The Rams, from the 3-yard line, began a long drive. Brad Poirier carried five times for 36 yards on the drive, including the final 15, to bring Marshfield within a score at 20-14. Poirier ran outside and then cut back on the scoring dash, following brother Luke and his other blockers on the play.

Chelmsford went three-and-out and Marshfield got the ball at the Lions' 49 after sophomore Mike Varley-Barrett's punt went off the side of his foot (Varley-Barrett was in for Murphy). Marshfield's drive stalled, but punter Luke Poirier pinned the Lions at their 3. The decision to give up the ball paid off, as senior Matt Macedo came off the corner and dived to block a punt, giving Marshfield a first down at the 10 with 2:34 to play.

After a false-start penalty, Luke Poirier picked up 12 yards and Steve Lunn rumbled in from the 3 to tie it at 20 with 1:55 remaining.

Phil Whittaker came in to attempt the extra point that would put Marshfield ahead for the first time. A false start pushed the Rams back 5 yards and Whittaker's kick was wide right.

Chelmsford had enough time to answer, and Rich again provided the spark, driving his team 51 yards to set up Smart's winning kick.

It was all Lions early, with Tim Rich showing off his versatility on the ground and through the air. Rich rushed for 37 yards on the opening drive that stalled on fourth and 7 from the Marshfield 18. Rich led his team right back down the field on Chelmsford's next drive, but this time finished with a touchdown, rolling right and throwing across his body to Smart for a 12-yard score.

Rich put the Lions up, 14-0, on the next drive, finding Nic Emanouil from 23 yards after a perfect pump-fake.

Brad Poirier's first TD run of the game got Marshfield on the board with 1:01 to play in the first half but Chelmsford was able to answer before intermission. Rich completed six of seven passes, including four to Murphy (11 catches, 114 yards), before he hit Emanouil (6 catches, 101 yards, 2 TDs) again, placing the ball high where only his 6-foot-2-inch receiver could get it.

"He went up over the defense [for both TDs]," said Bruce Rich.

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