Gritty Whittier finds way to win
East Boston just unable to convert
WALTHAM - In the waning moments of the Division 4 Super Bowl yesterday, there were plenty of chances for East Boston to dig itself out of a 2-point hole.
There was a fumble recovery by Jets defensive back Troy Williams on the first play of the fourth quarter, a field goal attempt by Victor Correa, and plenty of opportunities for Williams, who did not miss a beat at quarterback in the first half.
But the Whittier Wildcats came up with big plays when they needed them, winning, 14-12, in the rain at Bentley University for their first MIAA state championship.
East Boston (10-2) delivered the initial blow in the first quarter on a 2-yard keeper by Williams to put the Jets on top, 6-0.
The Wildcats (12-0) retaliated with 33 seconds left in the half, when senior Nate Allen plunged into the end zone from the 1. Junior Paul Buccos ran in the 2-point conversion to give Whittier an 8-6 lead at the half.
Whittier coach Kevin Bradley blamed jitters for his team being outperformed in the first half. While Williams was 6 for 6 for 141 passing yards, Wildcats quarterback Dillon Ryan had yet to attempt a pass.
“We were playing scared,’’ Bradley said. “We were nervous, and that’s a big thing. [I told them] don’t play scared, play like you have all season. Come out and you be the dictator on how this game will go.’’
And the Wildcats came out gunning. Buccos sprinted down the field for a 78-yard kickoff return, being forced out by Brandon Amodeo at the 1-yard line. Senior Nick Ferreira finished off what Buccos started by plunging into the end zone on the next play.
Williams, who completed 11 of 15 passes for 261 yards, responded with a 1-yard touchdown run with 1:10 left in the quarter, but the 2-point rushing conversion failed and the Jets trailed, 14-12.
East Boston came close to scoring again in the middle of the fourth quarter. The Jets had second and goal at the 1, but a delay of game penalty pushed them back 5 yards. They failed to advance from there, and a 23-yard field goal attempt on fourth down was tipped and fell short.
“I’m not making excuses, that’s for sure, but I tell you we came up on the short end of calls,’’ said East Boston coach John Sousa. “The whole ballgame was all on the line, the entire game on the 1. Where’s the play clock? You can’t call that on the 1. It’s awful. They stole it from the kids. You know I shouldn’t be saying this, but that’s the way I feel. That’s all there is. You let the kids decide the game on the football field.’’
The weather played a major role - East Boston had three botched punting attempts because the Jets had trouble handling the ball. And Bradley admitted his team’s passing game took a hit too. Ryan was only 2 for 4 for 9 yards.
Although Friday was Bradley’s 49th birthday, the nine-year coach said a Super Bowl win was the only present he wanted.
“We’ll just postpone [celebrating] one day,’’ Bradley said. “It was a great celebration, and I can’t be happier.’’