FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The Beverly Panthers used a 63-yard drive before halftime to swing the momentum in their favor, and came back to defeat the Somerset Blue Raiders 28-20 in the Division 3 Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium.
“For us to come back in the way that we did, it say something very special for our kids and their character,” Beverly coach Dan Bauer said.
“Starting off 0-5, you know how to face adversity,” Beverly quarterback Joe Wioncek said about the comeback. “When we went down we just stayed together like we have been all year.”
Beverly, which lost the first five games of the season, showed its resiliency after trailing Somerset 20-7 late in the second quarter. With 3 minutes, 1 second left in the half, Beverly used seven plays to drive 63 yards for its second score of the game.
Although the Panthers still were down 20-14 after the extra point, Beverly rallied at halftime after the scoring drive.
“That, in itself, allowed us to be in position to win this game...” Bauer said about the drive. “That gave us the support we needed to pull the win out.”
“That’s the story of our season, we’ve been doing it all year,” Beverly’s Mark Giles said after the game. “No one believed in us after we were 0-5, people were probably down on us when we were down in the first quarter, but we don’t give up. This team doesn’t give up.”
Somerset’s offense confused the Beverly team early on, and the Blue Raiders were able to score on their first three drives of the game. Jaron Spear led Somerset in the first half with nine carries for 148 yards and two touchdowns -- including a 59-yard run, on which he broke two tackles on the score.
But Spears went down with a hip injury in the second quarter, according to Somerset coach Nick Freitas, and the offense struggled to move the ball in his stead.
The comeback was also keyed by a defensive revival for the Panthers. Beverly’s defense stepped up in the second half with an invigorated defensive line, and some minor strategic adjustments.
Coach Bauer said that to counter some of the pulling guards and misdirection that Somerset used throughout the first half, the team subbed in a linebacker for a defensive linemen. That speed allowed the Panthers’ defense to keep up with the Somerset running backs on the sweeps, and neutralize the pulling linemen.
“We were a little soft in the beginning and we woke up a little bit on the line,” Giles said. “But once we started resetting the line of scrimmage we were making the plays we needed to make.”
Beverly’s offense was led by Nick Theriault -- who had 12 carries for 139 yards and one touchdown -- and Wioncek. Wioncek finished the game 6 of 11 for 77 yards with two touchdown-passes to sophomore Brendan Flaherty.
“It feels amazing. Words can’t describe it,” Wioncek said about winning the Division 3 Super Bowl. “You grow up watching TV, and watching this field, to be able to play on it and not only win -- but win a super bowl -- for your school and community -- it’s amazing.”
BEVERLY 28, SOMERSET 20
SOM 14 6 0 0 --- 20
BEV 0 14 7 7 --- 28
S - Jaron Spear 59 run (T.J. Eisle kick)
S - Seth DeMello 1 run (Eisle kick)
B - Brendan Flaherty 13 pass from Joe Wioncek (Wioncek kick)
S - Spear 26 run (Eisle kick)
B - Flaherty 15 pass from Wioncek (Wioncek kick)
B - Nick Theriault 26 run (Wioncek kick)
B - Wioncek 1 run (Wioncek kick)