WESTWOOD, Mass. -- The Medway Mustangs showed their resiliency in the inaugural game of the Tri-Valley League playoffs on Saturday at Westwood High School.
The No. 3-seeded Mustangs took down the No. 2 seed Norton Lancers 28-18, even though Norton owned a 12-0 lead until under a minute to play in the first half.
With 48 seconds to play in the first half, Medway’s Matt Ford hauled in a 22-yard fade from quarterback Joe Henry to give the Mustangs their first score. The Mustangs defense stepped up and the team rallied from behind after a halftime speech from Medway coach Dave McSweeney, as the team advanced to the next round in the TVL playoffs.
“I wasn’t really thrilled at halftime -- that score before the end of the half was huge for us.” McSweeney said bluntly. “[Norton] played really well, and they did some things we weren’t really prepared for and that happens but-- it’s a test to [our] character.”
Norton owned the first quarter as they pounded the run defense of Medway with a heavy dose of tailback Zach Schwieger and quarterback Joe Wilkes. Norton’s first drive of the game went 78 yards for a Wilkes to Phil Rizzo touchdown connection and took six and a half minutes off the clock.
However, the Medway defense rebounded in the second half, and the Mustangs’ run game ate up the clock.
“When we needed to make plays, we made plays tonight,” McSweeney said. “Which I think that is what you hope you can do on defense.
“I don’t care about stats -- I don’t care about any of that stuff -- but when somebody needed to make a play, we made a play.”
Medway running back Mike Ozzella was the workhorse of the offense in the second half, as he tallied over 100-yards in the last two quarters. In total, Ozzella racked up 165 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries.
“Just keeping with it,” Ozzella said about the key to his success. “Not getting too frustrated. It was tough in the first half but we made some adjustments offensively as well.”
The senior’s offensive line came alive in the second half. Led by Pat Regan and co-captain Kyle McSweeney, the group gained momentum as the game went on.
“The last 22 minutes, it’s just wear them down” said Ozella about the team’s mentality. “They’re getting tired and we’re getting tired too, but we just have to be the more physical team, blow them off the ball and sooner or later you’re going to break one.”
Henry completed 8 of 12 passes for 89 yards and one touchdown for Medway.
“I got a line that I wouldn’t trade with any team in this league,” Henry said. “They’re really the backbone of the offense. If they’re doing well then our running backs are going to do well and that just sets up the pass.”
On the other side of the ball, Wilkes was six of seven in the first half but ended the game 8 of 17 for 105 yards with one touchdown. The Medway defense made adjustments and kept Norton from the endzone until two minutes, 32 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
Norton 6 6 0 6 -- 18
Medway 0 7 7 14 -- 28
N - Rizzo 20 catch from Wilkes (Wilkes run failed)
N - Brendan Curtin 40 catch from Schwieger (pass failed)
M - Ford 22 catch from Henry (Joe Davenport kick)
M - Greg Amato 11 run (Davenport kick)
M - Ozzella 3 run (Davenport kick)
N - Schwieger 5 run (kick failed)
M - Ozzella 50 run (Davenport kick)