WAKEFIELD - In a game that featured explosive offenses, Reading's defense stood out.
"Our kids played awesome," said Reading coach John Fiore after the Rockets beat previously unbeaten Wakefield, 27-6, yesterday at Landrigan Field. "They had unbelievable effort."
The effort that Fiore lauded was particularly evident on defense. The Rockets (8-0) intercepted two passes and recovered a fumble, while holding Division 2's third-leading scorer, Martin Hyppolite, to 85 yards on the ground.
"The defense was unbelievable," said Fiore. "Everyone was hitting and getting through their blocks."
The defense also held John Amentola of Wakefield (5-1) to 102 yards passing. While preserving its 20-6 lead in the fourth, Reading's defense forced Amentola to throw six straight incomplete passes.
Reading had some trouble moving the ball against a Wakefield defense that ranked first in the Middlesex League.
Reading led, 13-6, at the half. After two three and outs, Reading got the ball at the beginning of the fourth quarter. On the first play from scrimmage, Ryan Pollock cut through a seam and outran Hyppolite for a 53-yard touchdown.
Tino Perrina is the usual star in the backfield, but Pollock ran the show yesterday. He finished with 92 rushing yards and two interceptions. Perrina was slowed down by the Wakefield defense, rushing for 55 yards.
Down, 20-6, Wakefield tried to pass its way to the end zone. Reading's defense, however, wouldn't budge and forced two turnovers on downs.
Perrina added a 2-yard score with just more than two minutes remaining to push the lead to 27-6. With his 24th touchdown Perrina broke Reading's single-season scoring mark of 150 held by Bill Tucker.
The Rockets were the first to score, one minute into the second quarter. Aided by 25- and 18-yard receptions by Jimmy Queeney, the Rockets were able to move to the Wakefield 3.
"He is the heart and soul of this team, on offense and defense, he is the man," Fiore said of Queeney.
Perrina then punched it to give Reading the 6-0 lead.
Wakefield responded quickly, Hyppolite scoring on a 30-yard dash.
But Reading retook the lead, Stanley Andre's 1-yard run capping an eight-play, 56-yard drive.
After traveling to Belmont (3-5) Friday, Reading will host defending champion Melrose (8-0) Friday, Nov. 14. If Reading wins out (including a win over struggling Stoneham on Thanksgiving), the Rockets will be back in the MIAA playoffs for the first time since 2000.
If Reading loses to Melrose, the Thanksgiving game between Wakefield and Melrose will likely decide the Middlesex champion. The Middlesex champ will face the Bay State Herget champ. Natick (8-0) and Walpole (8-0) are tied atop the Herget standings.