Gagliardi, Tigers pick off Pembroke
FRANKLIN - Pembroke had a first and 10 at the Oliver Ames 24-yard line, and it looked like quarterback Luke Nagle was about to cement his place as a Titans legend.
One 88-yard interception return later, Brandon Gagliardi and his Oliver Ames teammates were celebrating a 20-12 Division 3 semifinal victory and a trip to Gillette Stadium. The Tigers (7-4) will take on Concord-Carlisle at 9 a.m.
Gagliardi’s pick came at the end of a drive masterfully coordinated by Nagle. Trailing, 13-12, the senior completed four passes on the drive for 49 yards, taking Pembroke (10-1) deep into Oliver Ames territory after starting at his 10 with 2:28 to play.
But in the end, Gagliardi and the Tiger defense won out.
On first down at the 24, Nagle dropped back and looked for a receiver to the right. Gagliardi was charged with spying Pembroke’s Jon Hooper as Hooper rolled into the flat.
“I carried him into the flat, and I saw the ball was coming back toward me,’’ Gagliardi said. “I jumped it, and once I got past [Hooper], there was nobody there to catch me.’’
It was the second time Oliver Ames pulled momentum out from under Pembroke’s feet.
In the third quarter, Pembroke snapped a 6-6 tie with a three-play, 77-yard drive that included a pair of big runs. The first, by Brian Tinkham, went for 28 yards, and the second, by Hooper, went for 48 yards and a score.
The Titans’ 2-point try failed, leaving their lead at 12-6. It stayed that way for one play, as Carlton Williamson returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards.
Saint Clair Ryan initially bobbled the kick near the 10. After gaining control, Ryan handed the ball to Williamson on a reverse - a play Oliver Ames had faked earlier in the quarter.
Williamson streaked up the right side, and went untouched for the score. Alex Frizzell made the extra point, and the Tigers took a 13-12 lead.
Pembroke opened the scoring in the second quarter with an impressive 85-yard drive. The Titans broke off eight straight plays of 5 or more yards, and the ninth play was a 2-yard touchdown run by Tom Castanha.
Nagle was the clearly the drive’s architect though, completing passes of 5, 16, and 24 yards and totaling 21 yards on the ground.
Oliver Ames came out of halftime with fresh legs, and Pembroke returned with stone hands, going three-and-out with a pair of dropped passes.
Tinkham’s punt, a rolling 60-yarder, pinned Oliver Ames at its 10, but 90 yards were too much for Pembroke to defend.
The Tigers ran 14 plays en route to the end zone, with Sam Langston converting a fourth-and-goal from the 2 for the score.
The PAT was blocked, leaving the teams tied at 6.