Bitter end to an almost perfect season for Bulldogs
Despite a slight edge heading into the final quarter and a sea of red at their backs, the Old Rochester Bulldogs lost the Division 6 Super Bowl to the Stoneham Spartans on Saturday, 26-20.
The game marks Old Rochester’s first loss on the season, the only blemish of their otherwise perfect record. In the heart of Foxboro, at Gillette Stadium, the Bulldogs came up just short on the league’s biggest stage.
Though the finale may leave a bad taste in the mouths of players and fans alike, the Bulldogs put on a passionate performance against arguably the best opponent they have faced all year.
In the end, however, it was Stoneham who won the chess match.
The tone of the game was set from the opening kickoff by Old Rochester coach Justin Kogler, who decided to try an onside kick. The try failed, but proved that the scrappy Bulldogs were going to give it everything they had during the final game of the season.
The scouting report said that the Spartans were a run heavy team — and run they did. Without a single pass attempt on their opening drive, Stoneham marched down the field and scored on a 10-yard run play. The Bulldogs stiffened up their defense during the two-point try and prevented any additional damage.
Lead by a group of fiery seniors, the Bulldog’s offense answered back with a strike of their own. The scoring play came off of a 50-yard reception from senior quarterback Cole McIntyre to Tyler Noe.
The crowd went wild, chanting harder and louder, “Let’s Go Bull-Dogs!”
The defense managed to get off the field on the next drive, but a fumble by McIntyre on the ensuing drive opened the door for another Spartan touchdown, putting them up 12-6.
Reenacting the Bulldogs’ first quarter attempt — though with more success — the Spartans recovered an onside kick.
With time ticking away, a poorly timed throw by the Spartans was intercepted by Noe around midfield, which energized the Bulldog sideline.
Coming out of the half, Stoneham tried another onside kick and again recovered it, taking the ball away from a hungry Bulldogs offense.
The next time the offense had their hands on the ball, they did not let it go to waste. After a long pass landed the Bulldogs in the red zone, the ball was handed of to senior running back Desmond Dias for a score, putting Old Rochester up 13-12.
During the kickoff, Old Rochester finally converted an onside kick. Without missing a beat, McIntyre threw a 48-yard touchdown pass to tight end Adam Breault.
Stoneham scored on their next drive after a long kick return set them up inside the 25-yard line. Heading into the final quarter, the Bulldogs were up 20-18.
A handful of turnovers and a 40-yard Spartans touchdown, inevitably, cost Old Rochester the game.
With time running down, both teams traded turnovers, but Old Rochester was unfortunate enough to commit the final one and seal their fate.
“I’m very proud of our team,” said Kogler. “It’s been 25 years since our school has been here. We came and we fought as hard we could. I’m not disappointed in anyone’s effort. We just didn’t execute the way we needed to to win this game.”
After winning 14 straight games and making highlight reel plays all season, the Bulldogs will still have an incredible season to remember. The game was the final match in the Bulldogs uniform for 22 seniors.
Though the loss may sting at the moment, the graduating class will hopefully look at this season for what it is — one of the most impressive showings in recent school history.
“I’m going to miss them,” Kogler added. “Every year we’ve been going a little further and a little further and we got to Gillette. Ultimately, we fell a little short, but I’m proud of these guys and I’m going to miss them.”