BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- With three gifted running backs, it's not always easy to predict which Abington runner will take his turn in the big-game spotlight.
Tuesday evening, it was junior Matt Kilmain who stepped to the forefront, piling up an incredible 274 yards and three touchdowns on just 12 carries to lead the Green Wave in a 29-12 triumph over Millis/Hopedale in a Div. 4 semifinal matchup at Bridgewater-Raynham High School.
Abington (12-0) will face St. Mary's in the Div. 4 Super Bowl Saturday at Curry College (time TBA).
"It was really the blocking. Every time I scored, the hole was huge," said Kilmain when asked what enabled him to have such success. "I would just hit the hole, make one move and I was gone. I got the one touchdown and they just keep feeding me."
Fellow backs Babila Fonkem (38 yards) and Jack Malafronte (32 yards, TD) have also taken turns in the lead role but Kilmain showed early signs that he was going to be difficult for the Mohawks to handle. Despite a somewhat slippery turf, Kilmain took Abington's second play from scrimmage 72 yards down the left sideline for a score.
Millis/Hopedale (8-4) got it right back on an 11-yard TD run by Chris Ahl (100 yards, two scores) and took the lead on Ahl's second touchdown, also from 11 yards. The Mohawks missed both extra points, as well as a 20-yard field goal try at the buzzer, but still took a 12-7 into the break.
Whatever was discussed in the Green Wave locker room during the half seemed to have an effect as Kilmain took the first play from scrimmage through left tackle and sprinted 65 yards to paydirt, putting his team back in front, 15-12.
Two possessions later, Kilmain broke another big run, this time sprinting 42 yards straight through the middle. Malafronte would add the final score on a 12-yard burst in the fourth quarter.
"Matt Kilmain has come into his own in the latter part of the season," praised Abington coach Jim Kelliher. "He's just feeling more comfortable being a running back, more comfortable with the plays, a lot more...just going out there and doing what he can do best and letting everything flow. And when he can do that he's as good as anybody."
DIGGING IN ON DEFENSE
Led by 6-foot-2, 300-pound two-way lineman Jon Baker, who was his typically dominating self, the Mohawks boast a rather imposing group of linemen on both sides of the ball. Instead of cowering and giving way to such beef, the Green Wave defense instead dug in their heels and relied on quickness and technique to find holes in the Millis offensive line to get pressure in the backfield.
The trio of Jason Halpin, Steve Manning and nose tackle Jon Aprile more than held their own and put together more than a few big plays. Manning and Aprile each had sacks while all three consistently swarmed to the ball and made several tackles for no gain or losses.
"We just shut down the middle," Halpin said. "That's all we needed to do. We sent it outside, we got the linebackers going. Just an all around team thing. They were huge, they were a big line, You just gotta find their weakness and attack it.
Halpin added, "We really keyed in on the two main players, [quarterback Sean Heffernan] and [Ahl]. [Ian Strom] was one of the big guys too. We keyed in on them, made sure we knew all of their formations and everything. We prepared a lot."
Kelliher knew his smaller squad was in for a battle but he was able to walk away more than pleased with the effort his defense put forth,
"I thought my kids did exactly what we asked them to do," Kelliher said. "Just hang in there, be tough, keep on coming at them and things will turn. Yeah, we're going to get driven back a few times because they're pretty good, they're pretty big. But at the same time, we have good football players. Stay with what you do best and everything's going to be alright."
ABINGTON 29, MILLIS/HOPEDALE 12
MILLIS/HOPEDALE (8-4) 6 6 0 0 - 12
ABINGTON (12-0) 7 0 14 8 - 29
AB - Matt Kilmain 72 run (Shawn Donovan kick)
MH - Chris Ahl 11 run (kick failed)
MH - Ahl 11 run (kick blocked)
AB - Kilmain 65 run (Babila Fonkem rush)
AB - Kilmain 42 run (pass failed)
AB - Jack Malfronte 12 run (Tim Ferguson pass from Brandon Cawley)