NEW BEDFORD, Mass. -- Although their postseason fate has yet to be determined, Brockton football can emerge from Saturday’s 38-9 thumping of Big Three rival New Bedford with a couple of certainties.
The first point is that junior quarterback Austin Roberts with 15 carries for 146 yards can shoulder the load, though that’s not all that much of a surprise at this point in the season. The second, and perhaps most encouraging sign, was that the Boxers’ defense was downright dominant in the second half, allowing the offense to score 29 unanswered points with the benefit of turnovers and tremendous field position.
That led Boxers head coach Peter Colombo to exclaim that his team had played their finest half of the season in an up-and-down kind of season.
“The defense allowed us to get our bearings and win this football game,” Colombo said. “It was just a tremendous job by the D.”
The Boxers (5-5, 2-0) spotted the Whalers (4-5, 0-1) an instant 9-0 lead with New Bedford’s defense coming up with a safety before quarterback Myles Medeiros took in a 1-yard touchdown run.
Brockton closed the gap with Roberts’ 48-yard bomb to Jerrod Shelby in the second quarter. Then, the Boxer defense made it first of a string of pivotal stops on defense, twice halting the Whalers from getting first downs inside the red zone in the final minute of the half. That kept the score within two points at the half.
“I think, momentum wise, it was huge. We don’t want to come back here, down a touchdown-plus.”
From there, the persistent thumping of Roberts in the ground game and the tenacious defense carried Brockton.
“I’ve never seen a quarterback have to the throw the ball away that much in a game,” Colombo said, “and that’s a credit to Bob O’Neill, our defensive coach, and the kids executing his game plan.”
RUN IT AGAIN, AUSTIN
The Boxers found success in the running game by repeatedly running the option behind Roberts, mixed in with the hard-nosed running of Richard Marsh and the highlight-reel flash of speedster Josh Brewster.
But it was the 5-10, 175-pound quarterback that frustrated the Whalers so. Roberts runs with a low center of gravity, making him hard to tackle. He also carries a running back’s mentality, often initiating contact with defenders and driving for extra yards past the initial hit.
“I just take whatever I’m given,” Roberts said.
IT’S NOT ROCKET SCIENCE … OR IS IT?
With Brockton claiming the Big Three’s regular season title with Saturday’s win, the scenario for Brockton’s postseason prospectus is simple: they win, they’re in.
Having beaten the Whalers, all the Boxers have to do is beat 11-th ranked Bridgewater-Raynham in the team’s Thanksgiving Eve matchup. However, if the Boxers lose to the Trojans, they might not represent the conference in the playoffs, despite being league champions.
Nonsense you could say.
Well, opinions aside, the Big Three football league charter directs that the league’s playoff representative must have at least a. 500 record. So if the Boxers falter against B-R and dip to 5-6 on the season, the Whalers would be playing past Turkey Day, providing they win over Durfee.
“We can’t control anything that any other team does,” Whalers head coach Dennis Golden said. “We have to worry about playing the best Thanksgiving game that we can play … We’ll take it as it comes.”
With offensive playmakers Marcel DePina and Jaraud Wood leaving the game in the second half due to injuries and coupled with the copious amount of turnovers the Whalers committed on Saturday, they have other matters to worry about.
But, somehow, New Bedford might still live to play another day past Thanksgiving Day.
Brockton (5-5, 2-0) - 0 7 14 17 -- 38
New Bedford (4-5, 0-1) - 9 0 0 0 -- 9
NB - Safety
NB - Myles Medeiros 1-yard run (Mike Rapoza kick)
B - Jerrod Shelby 48-yard pass from Austin Roberts (Lucas Depina kick)
B - Roberts 26-yard run (Depina kick)
B - Richard Marsh 5-yard run (Depina kick)
B - Depina 42-yard pass from Paul Mroz (kick blocked)
B - Josh Brewster 1-yard run (Depina kick)
B - Lucas DePina 30-yard field goal