Chieftains Come Away with Big 30-21 Win

Published in the November 07, 2007 issue of Stow Independent

By Jordana Bieze Foster

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Playing as if last week's shutout loss to Holy Name were but a distant memory, the Nashoba Regional football team rallied on Friday night to topple previously undefeated St. Peter-Marian 30-21 and stake a claim to a share of the Division 1 West title.

If Nashoba (3-1 in league, 5-4 overall), St. Peter-Marian (4-1, 4-4), and Holy Name (4-1, 5-3 after a non-league victory Saturday over Westborough) all win their remaining league games, they will finish the season in a three-way tie at the top of the standings. With head-to-head records also evenly split, a second tiebreaker would be needed to determine a Super Bowl representative.

For that scenario to occur, however, Nashoba will need victories next week at Oakmont and Thanksgiving day at home against North Middlesex. And although neither of those opponents has a winning record, the Chieftains can't afford to take anything for granted.

“This was huge,” said offensive lineman Matt Murray of Stow. “After that tough loss last Saturday, we really needed to bounce back. And if we win out we get a piece of the title, which is also huge. But we can't look too far ahead right now. We just have to keep winning.”

It was perhaps fitting that the Chieftains bested the Guardians under the lights in Bolton after falling to the Napoleons 20-0 last week in a rare afternoon game, because the difference between the two performances was truly like night and day.

“Last week I don't think we came ready to play,” said tight end/defensive back Paul Murray of Stow. “This week the coaches really pumped us up.”

Lead rusher Travis Patterson, who had to scratch and claw for every yard against the Naps, averaged 10.4 yards per carry on Friday night, including touchdown runs of 49 and 45 yards. Patterson (251 yards total) benefited not only from the return of backfield mate Alex Warila of Stow, who missed most of the Naps game with an ankle injury, but also from a rejuvenated offensive line that had learned a few lessons from the previous week's struggles.

“St. Peter-Marian's linemen were very fast, probably just as fast and physical as Holy Name's linemen,” Matt Murray said. “But I think we just took our experience from last week and used it to our advantage this week.”

Against Holy Name, Nashoba was down 8-0 just minutes into the game, and never managed to regain that momentum. Friday night, it was the Chieftains who got on the board early and often, starting with an eight-play, 66 yard drive capped by a 1 yard touchdown run by quarterback Tom Quinn.

“That really set the tone for the game,” said head coach Ken Tucker. “We showed we had come to play.”

Another 1-yard TD plunge, this one by Dustin Greene of Stow, and a Jim Garvey field goal paced the Chieftains to a 17-0 lead with just under six minutes remaining in the first half. The latter drive began following an onside kick that was recovered by Matt Murray, with an assist from Greene.

Meanwhile, the Chieftain defense was also firing on all cylinders, completely stifling the ground game of the Guardians (who had just 9 yards rushing in the first half, 86 for the game). Once the visitors decided to go to the air, however, their luck improved. Guardians receiver Kyle Brenner made a Moss-esque one-handed grab on a B.J. Warmken pass and took it 55 yards into the end zone to narrow the gap to 17-6 before Patterson answered with a 49 yard TD run of his own to make it 24-6. But another touchdown pass, this one from Warmken to Zakee Jenkins for 68 yards with just a minute remaining in the half, served notice that the Guardians weren't going to go away quietly.

Sure enough, with 1:17 left in the third quarter, an 11-yard run by Ryan Cortes made the score 24-21. But Patterson's 45-yard TD scamper with 1:57 remaining in the game added some insurance, and three strong fourth-quarter defensive stands by the Chieftains, including interceptions by Paul Murray and Bobby Falvey (each recording his first pick as a varsity player), held the Guardians in check.

Now the challenge for Nashoba is to avoid a letdown heading into this Friday's game against Oakmont in Ashburnham (start time is scheduled for 7 p.m.).

“We have to have just as much intensity as we had in this game,” Matt Murray said. “If we do that, then hopefully we'll come away with the win.”

Copyright 2008 Jordana Foster – 24 Kirkland Dr, Stow, MA – Email: – Fax: (815) 346-5239