Quick recovery by Richard boosts Prep in overtime win
READING - Normally, a fumbled snap doesn’t bode well for an offense. This time, it led to a game-winning touchdown in overtime.
In yesterday’s Division 3A semifinals in Reading, Austin Prep quarterback J.R. Richard found his offense facing fourth down at the 1-yard line in overtime with the Cougars and Lynnfield locked at 20.
Richard fumbled the snap, but picked it up quickly enough to recover and leap into the end zone to put Austin Prep up, 26-20.
On Lynnfield’s overtime possession, it once again came down to fourth and 1, but Prep’s Matt Mulcahy stopped Gino Cohee in the backfield to give the Cougars the Super Bowl berth.
“Jonathan Richard put about 10 years on my life out there,’’ said Austin Prep coach Bill Maradei.
“But he performed well under pressure, and did the job. That’s a man’s play right there.’’
The Pioneers held a 13-12 lead as the game entered the fourth quarter, but couldn’t capitalize on a blocked punt that put them at the Austin Prep 37. AP took over on downs at the 33, and orchestrated a 57-yard drive that lasted about five minutes, capped off by a 4-yard touchdown run by Mulcahy. Ray Acciavatti ran in the 2-point conversion for a 20-13 lead with 2:10 remaining.
Lynnfield got a break when the Cougars botched a squib kick, giving the Pioneers the ball at their 49.
They marched 51 yards in 30 seconds, with Cohee (6 for 16 for 102 yards passing and 74 rushing yards) finding a wide-open Tyler Surrette for a 30-yard touchdown strike to tie the score. The Cougars managed to drive to the 20 in the remaining 1:40, but a 38-yard field goal attempt was missed with time expiring.
Acciavatti led the Cougars attack with 132 yards rushing on 20 carries, including a 57-yard scoring run that briefly put AP ahead in the third quarter.
“You have to be good and you have to be lucky to win, and we were a bit of both tonight,’’ said Maradei. “Ray Acciavatti was the man. Acciavatti and Richard, they played great football, they’re great football players.’’
Acciavatti credited the Cougars defensive effort for helping Austin Prep pull through, most notably the overtime goal-line stand.
“It’s a relief to win like that,’’ Acciavatti said. “To stop them four times from the 10, you know you have a good defense.’’
Austin Prep took the initial lead after recovering a fumble on the opening kickoff and capping off the first drive of the game with a 10-yard TD pass from Richard to Brendan Burke. Lynnfield responded in the second quarter with a 12-yard TD pass from Cohee to Chris Grassi and the Pioneers took a 7-6 lead to intermission..
Mulcahy, in addition to his game-saving tackle, also ran for 40 yards for the Cougars. Acciavatti hauled in six receptions for 70 yards on top of his rushing output, and Richard completed 8 of 16 passes for 108 yards and figured in two touchdowns.
Senior back George Hennessey led the Pioneers with 51 all-purpose yards.