It took one win to inspire a whole new attitude on the St. Clement football team. Tied, 6-6, with 4:58 remaining, the Anchormen orchestrated a 72-yard drive, capped by running back Derrick Chance's 37-yard exclamation point, to beat the Burke Bulldogs, 14-6, at White Stadium.
The victory is the first for coach Colin Walsh's program since a 20-6 win over Dorchester in Week 3 in 2006.
"This is the win that we needed to turn our football program around," the sixth-year coach said after the Anchormen broke their 17-game skid. "Lack of confidence has really been holding us back and we just needed one win."
St. Clement put together an 80-yard touchdown drive on its second possession, highlighted by a scrambling 27-yard completion from Tom Simas to Kayion Chambers. Chambers was pushed just outside the pilon at the 1-yard line and Matt McCarthy punched it in for the game's first score at the six-minute mark of the second quarter.
Burke answered with two big carries from Antoine Pierre-Canal and Raymond Kirkland, but when the opportunity came to score, it slipped right through wideout Eric Brown's fingers, dropping a would-be 31-yard score.
Midway through the third quarter, backed up on their 4-yard line, the Anchormen rode Chance, utilizing the senior running back to the tune of 10 carries for 66 yards. The speedy runner finished with 187 rushing yards on 22 touches and converted two fourth-down runs for St. Clement.
"Every day he comes in at practice and busts his butt," Walsh said. "He deserves those carries and he wants the ball in clutch situations."
But for a squad that has known defeat all too well, nothing would come easy. Chris Elysse, on his third carry of the game, fumbled and junior Damone Thomas picked it up and ran 84 yards for the tying touchdown, leaving the Anchormen with their hearts in their throats.
"It gave me that 'here we go again feeling,' " Walsh said.
Chris Shelton dropped the 2-point conversion try in the end zone to keep the game tied at 6 with 5:01 remaining in the game.
Burke wasted an opportunity to squash St. Clement's go-ahead drive, failing to fall on a loose ball that ended up back in the hands of the Anchormen. One play later, Chance struck, and a few minutes after that the celebration began. Walsh took a more sober view.
"We can't let it get to our heads," he said.