Boston High School: Aidan Cawley

D5 EMass: Abington 29, Bishop Fenwick 14

November, 22, 2014
Nov 22
5:56
PM ET


BROCKTON, Mass. -- To say Abington’s bid for a spot in the Division 5 Super Bowl got off to a flying stop in Saturday’s state semifinal game against Bishop Fenwick would be an understatement.

On Abington’s second possession, quarterback Brian Dwyer fumbled in the end zone and the Crusaders’ Josh Niconchuk smothered the ball for a touchdown as the quarter expired for a 6-0 lead.

But the last thing the South champion Green Wave were about to do was panic.

Instead, Abington rallied behind an opportunistic defense plus the running of Shawn Donovan for a 29-14 victory.

As a result, Abington:

* Will face Northbridge on Dec. 6 in the Division 5 Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium. “All” Northbridge did Saturday was demolish Pittsfield, 58-35, in the other semifinal.

*Snapped Fenwick’s 27-game winning streak.

* Enabled its 13 seniors to improve their three-year record to 33-3.

* Avenged a 35-8 loss to Fenwick in last year’s state semifinal.

“We’ve done that a couple of times this year but my kids are resilient,” said Abington coach Jim Kelliher, referring to his team’s ability to bounce back from what could have been a devastating turnover. “We work on that all the time in practice. Over the years, we usually don’t make a lot of mistakes. We do sometimes like anybody would.

“We try to emphasize on first down get as many yards as you can. Every inch you can get make sure you get it on first down. Second downs and third downs are for first downs. We want situations where you have third-and-two rather than third-and-six.”

Donovan swamps Crusaders: Prior to this game, an inordinate amount of hype engulfed Fenwick’s star running back, senior Rufus Rushins who against Abington carried the ball 31 times for 166 yards and one touchdown. But his performance was more than offset by that of Donovan who recorded 192 yards and two touchdowns on a mere 12 carries.

“Shawn Donovan certainly for us is our catalyst,” said Kelliher. “He’s a guy who’s been with us since he was a freshman. He’s been doing the same thing. He comes back to the sideline and he’ll joke about all the wonderful things he does.

“He has a nice demeanor about himself. He understands that it’s a team concept. But he gives some individual accomplishments that sometimes are awe-inspiring. It’s like ‘How did you do that?’”

Donovan began “doing that” on Abington’s first series of the second quarter when he ran for the bulk of the yards during a 70-yard drive that culminated when he burst around right end from the 15 and Brendan Glavin ran for a two-point conversion.

While Kelliher might have been inclined to present a game ball to Donovan, he also might have been inclined to present numerous game balls to his defense which picked off three Dwyer passes and came up with two huge stops on fourth down plays by the Crusaders.

The first stop came on the game’s first possession when Fenwick went for a first down on fourth-and-three from its 48. Abington’s defense planted Cody Mullen one yard short of the first down.

Then, late in the second quarter, with Abington nursing that 8-6 lead, Fenwick faced a fourth-and-one on the Green Wave’s 32. This time, Abington’s defense stopped Rushins literally one inch shy of a first down.

Perfect timing: “My defense is just coming of age,” said Kelliher. “For the whole year we’ve been getting better and better each game. Today was a time that you certainly like to have it. It was the state semifinals and they were there.”

Abington’s interceptions also were as timely as the Green Wave’s ability to stuff Fenwick on the aforementioned fourth-down-plays.

After Glavin dived into the end zone from the 2 for a 15-6 lead, George Cellini protected that lead going into halftime by intercepting a pass on Fenwick’s 33 with 13 seconds left on the clock.

Then, after a scoreless third quarter, the Crusaders finally got their running game in gear and churned out an 18-play, 85-yard drive which Rushins capped by diving over from the 1.

But with 4:08 left in regulation, James Landers intercepted a pass which set up a 51-yard touchdown run by Donovan for a 21-14 lead.

And shortly after the ensuing kickoff Aidan Cawley intercepted a pass and sprinted 66 yards for a score that punched Abington’s ticket to the Super Bowl.

“Aidan Cawley, for the whole year on offense and defense, he’s a big-time player for us,” said Kelliher. “He got that (interception). But, offensively, he’s made some big catches. He gets down field and blocks for Donovan.

“But defensively you’ve got to watch out for him because he has that knack as a defensive back to be a pest.”

The irony of the day and site of the game wasn’t lost on Kelliher.

“I thought it was really nice that we’re here again, Bishop Fenwick and Abington on the same day as last year, November 22,” he said. “It was a nice fight like we should have in Brockton at Rocky Marciano Stadium.

“It was a slugfest right to the end.”

In the end, Abington delivered the knockout punch.

ABINGTON 29, BISHOP FENWICK 14

BF (10-1) 6-0-0-8 - 14
AB (10-1) 0-15-0-14 - 29

First quarter
B – Josh Niconchuk recovered fumble in end zone (run failed)

Second quarter
A – Shawn Donovan 14 run (Brendan Glavin run)
A – Glavin 2 run (Dennis Cummins kick)

Fourth quarter

B – Rufus Rushins 1 run (Myles Connor pass from Matt Renzulli)
A – Donovan 51 run (kick failed)
A – Aidan Cawley 66 interception return (Donovan pass from Dwyer)

Recap: Abington 23, Rockland 7

October, 20, 2013
10/20/13
1:06
AM ET
ABINGTON, Mass. – Any rumors of demise on the gridiron at Abington High this fall have been greatly exaggerated.

No, the Green Wave weren’t exactly written off after seeing two of their star players go down with season-ending injuries in their Week 1 loss to Duxbury –- they hung in until the final drive that night, of course -– but there were certainly questions abound as to how they’d progress moving forward.

Six weeks later, the Green Wave have won five straight and secured a share of the South Shore League title, after spoiling border rival Rockland’s Homecoming with a 23-7 win at Rockland Veterans Memorial Stadium.

“I credit my coaching staff and I credit my kids,” Abington coach Jim Kelliher said. “We don’t have one of the very best backs in Eastern Massachusetts, with [Matt] Kilmain, and we lost our second-best guy on the first play of the season. We gotta roll up our sleeves, and just dig in, and we’ve got to work and make sure we come ready to play together on a Friday or Saturday.

“That’s what our coaching staff has really done a good job of. We’ve lost two big guys, and they were two very good gosh darn players.”

The Green Wave (5-1) used nearly a half-dozen ball-carriers to eke out yardage, as well as some deep throws from quarterback Brian Dwyer (7-of-9, 101 yards; 5 carries, 22 yards) to get out to an early lead. They took a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter when Al Freeman (21 caries, 77 yards, 2 TD) pulled around the left on a sweep and scampered in from 15 yards out. That score completed a quick four-play, 65-yard drive that featured some shifty open-field maneuvering from sophomore Shawn Donovan (12 carries, 115 yards).

Rockland responded immediately, with Justin Nguyen returning the ensuing kickoff 74 yards to the house, but the Green Wave came right back to make it a two-possession game once again. Following an onside kick recovery at midfield, Abington marched 53 yards in nine plays, capping it with Freeman's second touchdown, a two-yard plunge through the right side.

But the story of this game was the turnovers. Abington finished with a plus-four differential on the afternoon, twice recovering fumbles in its own red zone to thwart scoring opportunities for the Bulldogs (4-2).

The second recovery, snatched at the one-foot line by Josh Riordan, may have been the backbreaker. Off the turnover, the Green Wave ground out a 12-play, 85-yard drive that ate more than eight minutes off the clock. Donovan completed the drive with a 32-yard field goal, and by the time the Bulldogs had the ball again, they were facing a three-possession deficit with 3:56 to go.

Aidan Cawley sealed it in the end for Abington, thwarting Rockland's final two drives with interceptions deep downfield.

"They certainly are gonna feel good about that," Kelliher said. "I tell the kids defensively, if you can live for another defensive play, then something can happen. Even though they were driving -- they drove on us a couple of times -- I always say if you make them work for every single inch, something may happen. Maybe we're going to get that linebacker to tip the ball, or get an interception, maybe we're going to make a hit that causes a fumble, but stay with it, keep coming after them. They did, and we got those."

ABINGTON 23, ROCKLAND 7

AB 7 13 0 3 --- 23
RO 0 7 0 0 --- 7


First Quarter
A – Steve Manning 7 run (Shawn Donovan kick) 1:51

Second Quarter
A – Al Freeman 15 run (Donovan kick) 8:19
R – Justin Nguyen 74 kickoff return (Joe Reardon kick) 8:06
A – Freeman 2 run (kick failed) 3:23

Fourth Quarter
A – Donovan 32 field goal 3:58

SPONSORED HEADLINES