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Exeter 20, Hotchkiss 14

Sequeira and Exeter pick off win

By John McGuirk
Globe Correspondent / November 22, 2009

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ASHBURNHAM - Evan Sequeira was virtually speechless.

The Phillips Exeter Academy senior defensive back tried to explain how he became the hero in yesterday’s 20-14 overtime victory over Hotchkiss in the NEPSAC Class A Eaton-Estey Bowl at Quimby Field.

Sequeira picked off Ronn Schruefer’s pass in the extra period and sprinted 81 yards to complete the Big Red’s season at 9-0.

“It’s truly amazing,’’ said Sequeira. “Words can’t write it and you can’t script that. I just happened to get lucky and the ball went into my hands and after that instinct just took over. Nothing was going through my head after that but score.’’

Exeter compiled 222 yards of offense and had to earn every one of them against a very strong Bearcat squad. Hotchkiss’s defense held Big Red leading rusher Alex Scyocurka in check with 30 yards on 16 carries.

Realizing the ground game was in jeopardy, Exeter coach Bill Glennon opted to throw the football. When he needed big plays, he got them out of quarterback Dan Guadagnoli (12 of 19 for 191 yards). But no completion was more important than the one in the waning seconds of regulation.

Trailing by 7 and facing a fourth and goal from the 13, Guadagnoli ran to his right and threw across to field to Mike Castel for the tying score.

“That’s our 2-point play, believe it or not,’’ Glennon said. “We hadn’t used it all year.’’

Hotchkiss (7-2) appeared downtrodden following the score but felt it could do something in overtime. But Sequeira made the Bearcats feel a great deal worse with his pick-6.

Defense set the tempo as neither team could find the end zone until the closing minutes of the half.

Schruefer put the Bearcats on the board with a 1-yard plunge with 24 seconds left in the second quarter.

But Exeter would return the favor in a flash on the ensuing possession.

Guadagnoli found Scyocurka for a 31-yard gain and Justin Norris hauled in a 22-yard strike from Guadagnoli with two seconds showing to send the teams into the break deadlocked.

Hotchkiss moved ahead, 14-7, with 6:34 remaining in the fourth when Schruefer connected with receiver Charles Bakes from 4 yards.

The Bearcats were in prime position to capture their second postseason crown in as many years, but the final 30 seconds of regulation and the beginning of OT became a nightmare.

“In the overtime we were saying, ‘Let’s get a turnover,’ ’’ said Glennon. “I said jokingly, ‘Let’s get a pickoff and return it.’ But when I said it I wasn’t really thinking [it would happen].’’