WESTWOOD, Mass. -- Tommy Jenkins had just dropped a golden touchdown opportunity on second down in the first overtime of his No. 2 Xaverian Hawks' battle with No. 1 Brockton. But his quarterback, junior Chris Calvanese, had enough faith to call his number again, rolling right and heaving a -- let's be fair here -- prayer to the back right corner of the end zone as he was being dropped in the FieldTurf.
The high and short ball, with plenty of air under it, somehow landed softly in Jenkins' hands in single-coverage. But not until he heard the roar of the capacity home crowd did Calvanese feel assured.
"That's how I knew it was a touchdown," the junior quarterback said of his throw. "I did not see...I saw one-on-one coverage, and Tommy Jenkins made a great play. I just threw it up there. It's just...unbelievable, just unbelievable."
And so, in his third start under center for the Hawks, Calvanese shook off a series of late cramps and delivered some late-game heroics, enough for his head coach Charlie Stevenson to call this afternoon's 23-20 double-overtime win over Brockton one of the greatest wins in school history.
"There's another kid who, under really difficult playing circumstances (temperatures touched 90 degrees), really sucked it up and played hard," Stevenson said of Calvanese, who finished with 125 yards passing and completed eight of his final nine passes. "He really gave us everything he had, so I can't ask for anything more, and that goes for our players and our team too."
Xaverian (3-0) now leads the all-time series over Brockton (2-1) by a margin of 14-13, dating back to 1988.
The game was far from over following Calvanese's strike. Joe Colton was railroaded square onto his back at the pylon by Miami-bound safety Albert Louis-Jean on the Hawks' failed point-after attempt (teams must go for two in overtime), and the Boxers fired right back with a six-yard scamper from Trevon Offley (19 carries, 117 yards, three touchdowns). But on the point after, Offley was stuffed short of the goal line by Zach Bartlett.
Zach Maiuri then picked off Brockton's Paul Mroz on the next possession, setting up Jules Murphy's game-winning field goal from 19 yards out. The home crowd went into a frenzy, and a handful of Hawks jumped up into the bleachers to join their fans.
And for good reason. The Hawks, defending Division 1 Super Bowl champs, will almost assuredly sit at No. 1 on our rankings come Monday.
"My hat goes off to Brockton, they really took it to us all day long," Stevenson said. "It's just one of those games that will go into Xaverian-Brockton history books as another one of those affairs, you know what I'm saying? Hopefully, we go and do it again in December with them."
With just over two minutes left in the game and Brockton clinging to a 14-7 lead -- not to mention, against a Xaverian defense that was without star linebacker Chris Tamasi (left leg) for all but 30 seconds of the fourth quarter -- Offley burst up the middle and shook three Xaverian defenders en route to a 34-yard scamper that put the Boxers at midfield. But the ensuing snap was fumbled, and Bartlett fell on it to give the Hawks the ball with 1:33 to go at their own 45.
Calvanese connected with Mike Muir -- who, just a few plays earlier, separated his shoulder and popped it back in -- on the first play of the drive for a 29-yard completion, stepping out of bounds at the right sideline. Calvanese went to Muir again on the next play, diving at the right sideline for eight yards, but the Hawks had to use a timeout as their quarterback was slow to get up following another leg cramp.
But the junior got on his feet, delivered a flare pass to Nick McDaniels that stopped the clock again. Following an eight-yard Joe Colton jet sweep that put the ball at the nine, Calvanese rolled right on first and goal, and found Muir just inside the right pylons for the game-tying score.
"He separates his shoulder, then comes into the football game and makes a catch like that to tie it up -- I mean, a separated shoulder, OK? Who says Xaverian guys aren't tough?" Stevenson laughed.
Brockton head coach Peter Colombo was visibly frustrated with his team's production down the final stretch of the fourth quarter -- "It's a fun game to play in, but not fun to lose like that," he said -- but offered nothing but the highest of praises for his workhorse back.
"He was tremendous, tremendous," Colombo said. "I've got to look at the film to see why he didn't get in on the two-point conversion, because I really thought we had them beat there, too. We just didn't put them away when we could have, and that's what's going to haunt me."
No. 2 Xaverian 23, No. 1 Brockton 20
B - 0 14 0 0 6 0 --- 20
X - 7 0 0 7 6 3 --- 23
X - Joe Colton 3 run (Jules Murphy kick)
B - Trevon Offley 12 run (Lucas Depina kick)
B - Offley 14 run (Depina kick)
X - Mike Muir 9 pass from Chris Calvanese (Murphy kick)
X - Tommy Jenkins 9 pass from Calvanese (rush failed)
B - Offley 6 run (rush failed)
X - Murphy 19 field goal