BROCKTON, Mass. -- On fourth and goal from the Brockton 14-yard line, senior defensive back John Bright deflected a pass to Ryan Delisle, stopping a 69-yard and nearly 6-minute drive by St. John's Prep to seal the 17-14 win for No. 3 Brockton at Rocky Marciano Stadium.
"They're a good, physical, tough football team," Brockton head coach Peter Colombo said. "They can control the football, and I was proud of our defense for hanging in there."
On St. John's final drive, the Brockton defense was put to the test. After 12 snaps, No. 17 St. John's Prep (2-2) was at the three yard line, and having averaged 5.5 yards per carry on the drive up to that point, not showing any sign of letting up before they broke the plane on another 60-plus-yard drive.
Late in the second quarter, the Eagles flew 66 yards in 33 seconds, landing in the Brockton (3-1) end zone on the heels of senior Tyler Coppola's 3-yard bum rush, where he carried a Brockton defender across the goal line for St. John's first score in the game.
Getting the ball back early to start the third, St. John's Prep looked like they were going to give up a three-and-out after a holding call pushed the Eagles back, with the ensuing pass going for what would have been a first down without the penalty. After a rush for lost yardage by Coppola, the Eagles' punt was mishandled by Brockton, and they regained control of the ball.
Three plays later, on third and inches, St. John's Prep senior quarterback Tommy Gaudet rolled right and into the end zone from 38 yards out.
Back on the 3-yard line with less than three minutes to go, a St. John's offside penalty set them back to the 8. A loss of six yards on a Coppola rush and a pair of passes (one overthrown and the other dropped) would leave the Eagles 14 yards out and one opportunity to win.
The pass was well on its way into Delisle's hands, but Bright batted the ball down to raise the spirits of the Brockton faithful.
"They're kids, it's emotion, they're excited", St. John's head coach Jim O'Leary said about the off sides call on the goal line. "You can see the goal line from there. The play is away [from the direction the off sides was called].
"Like I told the kids, it's not one play that makes that difference. We had a couple of dropped balls down there [on the goal line] and it gets us into doing things that we don't want to do."
After St. John's took the lead early in the second half.
Brockton responded promptly with a simple two-minute drill: A Paul Mroz quarterback sneak; a 39-yard bomb down the left sideline from Mroz to Albert Louis-Jean; a jarring three-yard effort by Trevon Offley; and a pair of rushes by Mroz, the second a one-yard sneak past the plane in a pile. Lucas Depina's extra point gave the Boxers back the lead, which they were able to hold onto for the rest of the game.
"Good teams win tough games under adversity," added Colombo. "We've got a lot of work to do. We got a win, we're 3-1 after playing the iron of the Catholic Conference; it's a good place to be."
What can three points do for you?
Before St. John's prep scored in under a minute to close out the first half, Brockton's 6-foot-1 junior kicker, Lucas Depina, sailed a 41-yarder straight through the uprights, which brought the City of Champions stands to their feet and gave Brockton their margin of victory.
"Lucas is raising some eyebrows," said coach Colombo. "He's got a big-time leg and he's only a junior. He kicks it off the grass. We're allowed to use a tee but he kicks it right off the grass, which is the way that the college kids have to kick it. Lucas gives us a weapon, that with the schedule we playing, having the ability to make three [points on a field goal] and to convert the extra point."
"I didn't want to miss," said Depina.
He doesn't differentiate between extra points (he made both) and long kicks. He even thinks he could've gone for more yards if he needed to.
"I could've gotten it in from 50 [yards] at that point."
B – Jesse Monteiro 8 pass from Paul Mroz (Lucas Depina kick)
B – Lucas Depina 41 FG
SJ – Tyler Coppola 3 run (Copolla rush)
SJ – Tommy Gaudet 38 run (rush failed)
B – Mroz 1 run (Depina kick)