BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -– It was a tale of two halves for Billy Zolga but all that matters is a win in the end.
The senior quarterback Zolga was an efficient 7-of-10 under center for 148 yards with three of his seven completions going for touchdowns but Bridgewater-Raynham dominated previous undefeated Weymouth in the second half with their ground game in a 34-22 victory in front of the their home crowd to advance to the Division 1A Super Bowl this Saturday at Gillette Stadium.
While Zolga did throw one interception that resulted in a Wildcats' touchdown, most of the senior signal caller's damage came in the first half with 134 yards on 5-of-7 passing before turning the game over to his backfield - junior tailback Branden Morin and senior captain Mike Chicoine.
Morin was the workhorse with 28 carries for 165 yards and two touchdowns and was the major cog in the Trojans' ability to control the clock in the second half. Morin replaced starting tailback Nick Schlatz due to Schlatz's shoulder injury in the third quarter of Bridgewater-Raynham's big win over Brockton on Thanksgiving.
Chicoine had 59 yards on eight carries before also leaving with an lower leg injury with less then five minutes to play in regulation.
“Brandon Morin stepped up huge, we needed a lot of guys to step up for Nick Schlatz, and they did it. It was a great team effort, a great team win,” Trojans head coach Dan Buron said. “We knew they were going to stop the run and figured we would get a little play action pass going but we changed in the second half cause I like the clock to run.”
Weymouth drew first blood on their first series with a 73-yard, nine-play drive finished by quarterback Mitch Temple with a 17-yard floater to junior receiver Khary Bailey-Smith.
But Bridgewater-Raynham (10-2) answered back quickly scoring on only their second play from scrimmage as Zolga found Sean O'Donnell wide open for a 47-yard touchdown and the game was knotted at seven with 5:13 to go in the first quarter.
Not only that, but the Trojans would hit pay dirt on their first three possessions to take a commanding 22-7 lead as Morin scored the first of his two rushing scores and Zolga found fellow senior Sean McCall for the first of McCall's two end zone grabs, this one going for 52 yards.
But Weymouth (11-1) didn't go away quietly as senior tailback Dylan Colarusso punished the Trojans' defensive front for 78 first-half yards on the ground and scored from four-yards out to cut the deficit to eight, 22-14. Colarusso scored again from three-yards out after Shawn Whouley tipped a Zolga pass in the middle of the field to defensive back Ozzy Colarusso for the interception to set up the Wildcats at the Trojans' 34-yard line. Dylan Colarusso's second score came with only 33 seconds left in the second quarter and he capped off the comeback with a two-point conversion to tie it all up, 22-22, at the break.
“When it was tied I said 'What do you expect' – (Weymouth) is undefeated, they are not going to die, but we handled their surge and let's go out and take the opening drive,” said Buron.
A seven-play drive ending in Morin's second end zone dance, a six-yard sweep to the left, ate up 4:32 of the third quarter and gave Bridgewater the slim 28-22 lead.
Bridgewater-Raynham's defense finally came alive and forced the Wildcats into a quick three-and-out and the Trojans' running game took over the rest of the way.
A clock-killing 17-play drive ensued with Buron methodically drawing out plays to the final seconds of each possession to keep Weymouth's defense on the field. The drive covered the remainder of the third quarter and then after 15 of the first 16 plays of the drive were running plays – Zolga drove the stake into Weymouth's perfect season with an eight-yard corner route touchdown to McCall for the 34-22 lead with only 3:50 remaining.
All in all, the Wildcats only touched the ball eight times in total on offense in the second half which resulted in a net 11 yards of offense from scrimmage. Dylan Colarusso was bottled up the rest of the way as he finished with only 80 yards on 14 carries.
The win sets up a rematch of last season's D1A Super Bowl between the Trojans' and Gloucester -- 21-0 winners over Lincoln-Sudbury -- in a game in which the Fishermen's running game prevailed in a 33-13 victory.
WEYMOUTH (11-1) 7 15 0 0 -- 22
BRIDGEWATER-RAYNHAM (10-2) 15 7 6 6 -- 34
WE – Khary Bailey-Smith 17 pass from Mitch Temple (Ozzy Colarusso kick)
BR – Sean O'Donnell 47 pass from Billy Zolga (Mike Chicoine kick)
BR – Branden Morin 5 run (Morin run)
BR – Sean McCall 52 pass from Zolga (Chicoine kick)
WE – Dylan Colarusso 4 run (O. Colarusso kick)
WE – D. Colarusso 3 run (D. Colarusso run)
BR – Morin 6 run (kick failed)
BR – McCall 8 pass from Zolga (run failed)