BROCKTON, Mass. -– Leominster head coach David Palazzi really wanted his seniors to set their own history and make their own memories in the Brockton-Leominster annual non-league tilt.
Well, Palazzi’s historical wish was granted, and then some.
The Blue Devils blanked the Boxers 33-0 at Marciano Stadium for their fifth consecutive win on the season, and defeated Brockton for the first time since the 2006 season when Leominster escaped with a 26-15 win. The victory marks only the third time in 27 years that the Blue Devils upended the proud Boxers.
But even worse, the 33-point shutout is the worst shutout loss in Brockton football history dating back to a 53-0 shutdown to Weymouth in 1966.
“33-0, 3-0, 7-6, it doesn’t matter –- a loss is a loss and it got out of hand,” said Boxers head coach Peter Colombo. “I mean, we are still trying to win a game, but that is not the way we play football.”
After the teams exchanged pivotal first series from scrimmage, Leominster (5-3) took control and punched in two scores on the ground from fullback Cortez Ludden and two 20-yard passing touchdowns from the combination of wide out Kyle Sanders and quarterback Garrett DelleChiaie. A 64-yard interception from Geraldo Rivera sealed the deal to give the Blue Devils a comfortable 25-0 lead with just under four minutes left in the third quarter.
Leominster started the game from its own 24-yard line and decided to go for it on fourth-and-one after three short gains. Defensive end Khahleel Alcide filled the gap on the left side, and stuffed the Blue Devils’ Geraldo Rivera for no gain and the Boxers took over on Leominster’s 34-yard line.
“(Brockton) are a great program but obviously in the history of the Leominster-Brockton game -– I’d have to say it is a very big win for the city of Leominster and our program,” said Palazzi, who is also making his own history in his first year at the helm in place of the legendary John Dubzinski. “We’ve been on the short end of the stick here, but I shouldn’t have gone for it on fourth down. But the way our defense has been playing sometimes I get a little carried away.”
The Blue Devils were in a no-huddle, and Alcide’s simple stunt off the left put the Blue Devils on their heels. Brockton marched down to the five-yard line on nine plays but running back Josh Brewster was stopped for a two-yard loss on fourth-and-goal from the three-yard line and it set the tone the rest of the way.
“We held them on fourth down and then we had the drive and we were on the doorstep,” said Colombo. “To me that ended up being the game and (Leominster) come out of that sequence that they can play with Brockton. They played great football tonight and it’s very discouraging.”
This time Leominster broke inside the red zone only to have their own turnover on downs at the Brockton 13-yard line, but a quick three-and-out for the Boxers gave the Blue Devils great field position on the Boxers’ 40-yard line with 7:13 to play in the second quarter.
Ludden finished off the nine-play drive with a one-yard fullback dive to give the Blue Devils all they needed with 2:37 left in the first half.
But Brockton’s first of three turnovers on the night came at an inopportune time as Ludden fell on a fumble from the line of scrimmage and Leominster had the ball back at the Boxers’ 20-yard line with 1:28 left in the second quarter. Two plays later, DelleChiaie synched up with Sanders for the first of their two touchdowns through the air to give the Blue Devils a 13-0 lead at the break.
“Brockton plays a lot of man coverage and we run a lot of routes, yet Garrett throws a lot of balls, our receivers can catch, but it wasn’t easy believe me,” said Palazzi. “The (Brockton) guys were right on (Sanders) and Garrett made the throws. It looks good, it looks easy, but there are a lot of guys blocking up front.”
Said Colombo: “I felt it should have been one score each in the first half. I felt good about getting the ball in the second half even though it was two scores (down) I really felt like we could score twice in the (second) half.
But the Leominster defense, which has been up to the task all year, showed up big in the second half.
Ludden scored his second rushing touchdown after Brockton was forced to punt to put the Blue Devils up 19-0 with 4:04 left in the third quarter. Rivera made up for the fourth down failure by picking off a tipped ball from a Brockton receiver for a 64-yard interception return to give Leominster a 25-0 lead before the Boxers even blinked in the second half.
“Now we are chasing three, we are throwing it, and they get one popped up in the air and they take it to the house,” said Colombo. “In a typical high school game to come back from four (scores) isn’t going to happen. “
“That was a big interception by Rivera to really put us ahead 25-0 and our offense stepped up we did a lot of different things and a lot of different guys made contributions,” said Palazzi. “ Our o-line, I thought Garrett played a great game -- it was a team effort and it is something I’ve been stressing for the past two weeks and we really needed to put it together –- offense, defense, special teams – and we got it done tonight.”
On the next Brockton possession, Kevin O'Connor followed Rivera's lead and picked off another Boxers' pass in the secondary and crossed midfield to set up Sanders for another 20-yard score from DelleChiaie. O'Connor then got in on the scoring fun and hauled in the two-point conversion on a DelleChiaie toss to finalize the rout.
LEOMINSTER 33, BROCKTON 0
LEO (5-3) 0 13 20 0 --- 33
BRO (4-4) 0 0 0 0 --- 0
Cortez Ludden 1 run (Luis Orellana kick)
Kyle Sanders 20 pass from Garrett DelleChaiaie (kick blocked)
Ludden 6 run (pass failed)
Geraldo Rivera 64 interception return (run failed)
Sanders 20 pass from DelleChaiaie (Kevin O'Connor pass from DelleChaiaie).