ORR football avenges loss, advances in playoffs with comeback win
MATTAPOISETT — Despite a rocky start with a stifled offense that left Old Rochester Regional High School football team down by three points at the start of the final quarter, the team rallied to defeat the Apponequet Lakers, advance to the second round of the MIAA Division 6 playoffs, and avenge their only loss of the season on Saturday, Nov. 2.
The early portion of Saturday’s game saw the Bulldogs struggle on offense, giving up several fumbles and turnovers on downs. According to Head Coach Bryce Guilbeault, the team’s defense was what kept them in the game early on.
Both teams were scoreless at the end of the first quarter, but Apponequet was quick to strike in the second with 10 minutes and 38 seconds left on the clock. The Lakers’ kicker sent the ball through the uprights on his first attempt, but was forced to kick again due to a false start on his team’s behalf. Old Rochester’s defense capitalized on the second chance, blocking the field goal attempt and limiting the deficit to 6-0.
With the Bulldog offense unable to respond, Apponequet avenged that block with a 24 yard field goal with four minutes and 18 seconds left in the half, widening their lead to 9-0.
Old Rochester finally answered back with a touchdown with just over a minute on the clock, ending the first half with a score of 9-7 for Apponequet.
Guilbeault said that during halftime he told his team “you got 24 minutes, or your season’s over,” and that “the kids responded.”
The score was stagnant through much of the third quarter, until Old Rochester Captain Dylan DeWolfe ran in a touchdown with 2:46 left on the clock.
The closing minutes of the third quarter were a back and forth battle, with Apponequet scoring a touchdown and two point conversion with about a minute remaining.
ORR was quick to answer back with a touchdown of their own, although they failed at their own attempt at a two point conversion, ending the third quarter with a score of 17-14 for Apponequet.
The Bulldogs found themselves on third down early in the fourth quarter, 14 yards away from a first down, and 33 yards from the endzone.
Quarterback Ryon Thomas fired a longshot pass to wide receiver Thomas Durocher, who ran through the endzone, establishing ORR’s first lead of the game, and prompting roars from the home crowd.
From there, Old Rochester shifted momentum for a comeback victory.
Wide receiver Dylon Thomas brought in another touchdown with about four minutes left in the game, and with a successful field goal for the extra point, the Bulldogs built their lead to 27-17.
In perhaps the most pivotal play of the game, DeWolfe intercepted an Apponequet pass, taking away their opponent’s chance at closing the gap, and getting another drive on offense to solidify the win.
Running back Cam Brezinski brought in the final touchdown of the game, and with a failed attempt in recent memory, Jackson Cote crossed the endzone on the extra play for a successful two point conversion.
The Bulldogs were then able to hold the Lakers on defense and finish the game with a score of 35-17.
After the game, Guilbeault said that after losing to Apponequet in week two, his players had a “chip on their shoulder.” In his postgame speech to the team, he told players “they can have their wins in September, we’ll take our wins in November.”
DeWolfe said that he and other players were able to adapt later in the game by adding some new plays on offense, and making more blitzes on defense. He said that the comeback win was characteristic of the team, who’s best football often comes in the second half.
He added that after losing several seniors from last year, many had counted his team out this season, and that they have a lot to prove.
The #4 seeded Bulldogs will take on #8 Norwell at home next week in the second round of the single-elimination tournament.