WALTHAM, Mass. -- The primary intangible, that has become Waltham's staple throughout the season, failed to appear when it needed to most.
With a head-turning figured of just 4.8 points allowed per game, it was the Hawks' defense that put them the unique position to win their first Dual County League Large title. But it was not meant to be.
Acton-Boxborough's triple-threat Wing-T backfield blasted through Waltham with considerable ease Friday. The Colonials scored 27 unanswered points en route to a 43-8 shellacking at John L. Leary Field.
For A-B, it is the first DCL title won in five years and 21st overall.
"It's been a while, so I'm happy for the kids," said 28-year Colonials coach Bill Maver, his team improving to 6-1 and 4-0 in the DCL. "We have three good backs who block for each other just as well as they run the ball. I can't say enough about our guys up front. They really played well tonight. Our kids came to play tonight."
The Colonials offense shaked, rattled and rolled the Hawks (4-2, 3-1) throughout the chilly evening. The offense proved dominant, finishing with 517 yards, including 327 during the first half.
With A-B holding a 16-8 lead early in the second quarter, the Colonials took their game to another level soon after. After a J.T. Kelly 95-yard kickoff return was called back due to a holding penalty, the Colonials simply shrugged it off and started their drive in the shadow of their own goal post. A-B didn't stay there long once senior running back Tom Saponaro busted downfield for a 90-yard jaunt padding the Colonials advantage to 22-8.
Soponaro finished with 116 yards on eight carries.
However he wasn't A-B's leading ball carrier. That distinction belonged to William Tejeda. The senior rushed 15 times, gaining 157 yards with three touchdowns. Tejeda was virtually unstoppable breaking free on touchdown runs of 22, 3 and 80 yards, respectively.
"Our line had a great game today," Tejeda said. "The holes were there and I just hit them. During the first quarter we were winning the line of scrimmage battle against them. There was a lot of hype about their defense coming in but I don't think they had seen the Wing-T all year so it's a big difference and I think that is what got them."
A-B took an 8-0 lead on its second possession. A Tejeda 22-yard run into the end zone on fourth down followed by his conversion rush seemed to set the tone for the rest of the night. With Waltham's offense stubbing its toe with some ill-advised penalties to snuff out drives, the Colonials managed to go on top by 16 points early in the second quarter. Marching 63 yards, Tejeda closed the deal with a 3-yard sprint around right end followed by quarterback Hunter Arnold's conversion dive over the goal line.
The Hawks did make a mild run in this one. Following A-B's second score, Waltham senior quarterback Dana Parello (6-of-19, 133 yards) engineered a 54-yard drive capped off by a 23-yard scoring pass to Brendan Bonadio. Any momentum gained following the score quickly evaporated into thin air following Saponaro's sprint with just under five minutes remaining before halftime.
"Tejeda is a track guy who is pretty fast and runs hard," said Maver. "Saponaro is just a great football player. But overall this was a team effort throughout."
The Hawks didn't help their cause after Parello was picked off by Arnold at the A-B 26. The Colonials wasted little time turning that miscue into points.
On its fourth play of the drive, Tejeda broke loose for an 80-yard touchdown giving A-B an comfortable 28-8 halftime lead. The Colonials got the ball to open the second half and would add to their total. Two Arnold (6-of-7, 122 yards) completions sandwiched around some strong running by Tejeda, Saponaro and junior Gabe Cormier (48 yards on 13 attempts) set up Arnold's 1-yard plunge to make it 36-8 with just 3 minutes gone in the third.
While Waltham's offense (215 yards) continued to remain stuck in neutral, the Colonials' second unit came in and found a way to add more salt to the wound. A Kelly 3-yard carry across the goal line midway through the fourth completed A-B's 35-point margin of victory.
Now in their sixth year as a DCL member after leaving the Greater Boston League, the Hawks blew an opportunity to secure their first league crown.
However, like the Colonials, Waltham has already secured a postseason berth.
Now it is just a matter of getting the ugly taste of this defeat out of their mouths.
"This is certainly not the way we wanted to perform in a big game like this," third-year Hawks coach John Bourque said. "We made some bad penalties and turnovers and that can't happen in a game like this.
“Next week is a fresh start so we look forward to that and getting better. This is a little medicine for us. We'll take our licks and make a decision as to what we do as a team. We'll figure it out and fix it and move forward."