WESTWOOD, Mass. -- After the game that Bridgewater-Raynham's Branden Morin had Saturday afternoon, it wouldn't surprise me at all to learn that he drove the Trojans bus home from Westwood, too.
The 5-10, 190-pound senior captain picked off two passes, one which he returned 45 yards for a touchdown, the other basically ensuring his team would get a shot at overtime. He also added 49 yards on seven carries and scored what would end up as the game-winning touchdown as No. 5 B-R survived yet another epic battle against No. 6 Xaverian with a 28-22 victory in double overtime.
This was the third straight meeting between the two powerhouse programs to require more than just 44 minutes to determine a winner. Two years ago, Xaverian won in the triple overtime; last year, B-R took it in the first OT.
Maybe next year they'll shoot for four.
"It's ridiculous," Morin said afterward with a smile. "We're always going to OT with them. It never gets easier."
Defenses controlled the first quarter, and it was Xaverian (4-3) who broke through first when Austin DeCarr connected with Mike Warren (4 receptions, 84 yards) for a 58-yard touchdown strike less than three minutes into the second.
The Trojans (5-1) came storming back, pounding the ball with 6-2, 200-pound wrecking ball Nick Schlatz (33 carries, 158 yards, two TDs) powering his way behind a determined offensive line. Schlatz carried nine times on a 14-play drive and finished it off with a four-yard TD with 2:18 left in the half.
Then Morin came through with the first of several clutch plays, stepping in front of a DeCarr pass and racing 45 yards to the end zone to put B-R ahead, 14-7.
Morin related how he saw the play develop, "The QB was dropping back, I saw him looking at the receiver and I just read it the whole way and took it to the house."
Undeterred, the Hawks put together a terrific drive, showing tremendous balance between the pass and the run on a 17-play possession that ended with a six-yard touchdown run on an option keeper by Chris Calvanese. Jules Murphy's extra point tied the game at 14-14.
Both Kevin Wadsworth and Morin each had crucial, fourth-quarter interceptions with the Hawks broaching B-R territory, while Xaverian's defense held firm as the Trojans gambled a couple of times simply to keep the Hawks explosive offense on the sidelines.
In the first overtime, Calvanese picked up nine yards on first down and Taute Hunter bulled his way in from the 1 for the Hawks. DeCarr hit Warren on the conversion pass and Xaverian held a 22-14 advantage.
B-R needed just one play to respond as Schlatz took a pitch and cut back through the middle for a 10-yard score, and Morin threw an option pass to Joe Noviello to send it to a second OT.
The Trojans went first, and two Schlatz runs set up a three-yard TD by Morin, but Xaverian's Aiden Desrosiers stuffed Schlatz in front of the goal line on a shovel pass for a failed conversion.
Those missed points ended up not not mattering, as Eric Wabrek picked off DeCarr on 3rd-and-goal from the 16 to lock up the win.
BLUE COLLAR WORKERS
Schlatz is the type of back you can picture grabbing his lunch pail and putting on his hard hat before each game. His longest carry went for 27 yards, but it was the steady dose of positive yardage he made that kept the Hawks on the defensive.
Facing Xaverian's big defensive line and linebackers, the Trojans offensive line of Joe MacInnis, Pat Whooley, Eric DeMoura, Brian Pope and Nick Falconeiri, along with tight end Ryan Murphy, showed they are group with heart and toughness in paving the way to a 254-yard ground attack. In addition to Schlatz and Morin, Wabrek also chipped in with 35 tough yards and good blocking.
"We worked all week long and said, we have to come off flat backs, low and hard technique will win the game," B-R coach Dan Buron explained. "They're big but we thought if we stayed lower than them, it would neutralize their size. We went with a little bit of an unbalanced and tried to pick places to run and were able to get some double teams. That number 11 (Maurice Hurst Jr.) in particular is a pretty good player. We tried to run away from him but sometimes that's worse because he's so quick."
ONE MAN DOWN, ANOTHER STEPS UP
Trojans quarterback Brad Deluliis left the game with a bad ankle after being tackled on a running play in the first quarter. What could have become a disastrous situation was tempered by the poise of backup quaterback David Miller, who stepped right in without allowing the offense to miss a beat.
"He threw a couple good passes," praised Buron. "He was a little nervous and the timing was off a little bit but I thought he did a great job leading the offense and he was very poised."
SEARCHING FOR AN IDENTITY
While B-R makes no bones about who it is and what it does, Xaverian appears to be still trying to find ways to fit the right pieces into the right spots, Chris Calvanese among others.
The senior had a terrific all-around performance, seeing time at quarterback, running back, receiver and also on defense. Calvanese completed 5-of-7 passes for 37 yards, caught two more for 43 yards, added 79 yards and a TD on six carries. Defensively, he was in on four tackles and had an interception.
"I think that we're still trying to get ourselves to be more consistent on both sides of the football," said Hawks coach Charlie Stevenson. "Clearly today was not a good game defensively for us against the run. We didn't sustain our offense the way we should have either."
He continued, "I think Chris Cal had a great game on both sides of the ball. In my opinion, he was the best athlete on the field on both sides of the ball. I wish we had more guys to go around him right now. We're looking for them and hopefully we will get more guys to put around him so that we can really highlight his athletic ability as we go down the stretch."
BRIDGEWATER-RAYNHAM 28, XAVERIAN 22 (2 OT)
BR (5-1) 0 14 0 0 8 6 - 28
Xaverian (4-3) 0 7 7 0 8 0 - 22
X - Mike Warren 58 pass from Austin DeCarr (Jules Murphy kick)
BR - Nick Schlatz 4 run (Kevin Wadsworth kick)
BR - Branden Morin 45 interception return (Wadsworth kick)
X - Chris Calvanese 6 run (Murphy kick)
X - Taute Hunter 1 run (Warren pass from DeCarr)
BR - Schlatz 10 run (Dan Noviello pass from Morin)
BR - Morin 3 run (rush failed)