TAUNTON, Mass. – The winning equation for St. John’s Prep this season has pretty much gone as follows: Give it to Tyler Coppola.
While the talented running back did tear off 212 yards -- eclipsing the 2,000-yard rushing mark -- and a touchdown, it was another of the Eagles’ running backs who left his immediate imprint on a 35-7 win over New Bedford in their Eastern Mass Division I semifinal.
On the first series of the game, Alex Moore promptly read the eyes of New Bedford quarterback Myles Medeiros, coming over the route of a Whalers receiver and returned the pick 61 yards for an instant 7-0 lead with Connor Shaw’s point after try.
“I dropped back into my deep quarter and I saw the ball come a little high,” the sophomore said, “I ran behind the receiver and it came to me.”
After forcing the Whalers three and out on the ensuing possession, Dillon Gonzalez spun off one tackler and got a de-cleater of a block from Nate Cyr while rumbling 84 yards on a punt return for a touchdown. However, Shaw’s following kick was blocked for a 13-0 Eagles’ lead.
“I didn’t really see what happened,” Gonzalez said about the monster block that set him free. “All I know is that I was looking downfield and seeing who I had to beat.”
Then, Moore got back in the act in the second quarter, ripping off a 20-yard touchdown run to give the Eagles a 21-0 lead heading into the half.
“That’s really my one running play.”
Moore added, “It’s really designed to score a touchdown every time.”
The Eagles (8-4) kept things going in the fourth quarter when quaterback Tommy Gaudet hit tight end Ryan Delisle in the flat on a 21-yard touchdown pass. Gaudet was a perfect 4 of 4 for 44 yards, as head coach Jim O’Leary sprinkled in the pass here and there.
“Coach has all the confidence in the world in our offensive line, that’s what got us here,” Gonzalez said. “As a wide receiver, it’s nice to see a little bit of both. We’ll take it anyway it comes.”
Coppola put the exclamation point on the win with a 70-yard score in the fourth.
New Bedford (6-5) got on the board late on Marcel Depina’s 6-yard touchdown catch from Medeiros, who finished 15 of 27 for 145 yards.
“We’re proud of them,” Whalers head coach Dennis Golden said of his Big Three championship team. “We’re proud of them for not quitting on one another and becoming a team. That’s something we feel is significant, very significant.”
The Eagles will face Everett for the Eastern Mass Division 1 Super Bowl Saturday at Gillette Stadium.
SJP 13 8 0 14 -- 35
NB 0 0 0 7 -- 7
SJP Alex Moore 61-yard interception return (Connor Shaw kick)
SJP Dillon Gonzalez 84-yard punt return (Kick blocked)
SJP Moore 20-yard run (Tommy Gaudet to Gonzalez)
SJP Ryan Delisle 21-yard pass from Gaudet (Shaw kick)
SJP Tyler Coppola 70-yard run (Shaw kick)
NB Marcel Depina 6-yard pass from Myles Medeiros (Justin St. Pierre kick)