LOWELL, Mass. --- Concord-Carlisle is heading back to Gillette Stadium for the second consecutive year, as they defeated Holliston 32-27 in one of the most exciting contests of the 2011 Eastern Massachusetts season.
Holliston (9-2) got on the board first in the opening quarter as senior quarterback Dan Barone tossed the first of his three touchdown passes on the evening to a leaping Brody Ciarcello for a 38-yard score.
The constant misdirection, no huddle offense and unbalanced alignments had C-C (12-0) befuddled early, as Holliston moved the ball up and down the field through the air in the first half.
“Holliston is an incredibly tough team to prepare for,” said C-C head coach Mike Robichaud. “I think we did a good job against their run but they are so multi-faceted that they were able to execute in their passing game.”
C-C bounced back in the second quarter on two consecutive George Craan scoring runs. The senior tailback was a workhorse on the day as he carried the ball 35 times for 220 yards and four touchdowns.
After some great back and forth play through the middle portions of the game it would come down to the final stages of the fourth quarter as both teams had critical defensive stands within the final five minutes of the game.
C-C got a final time-consuming drive that ended in a six-yard surge through the line by Craan to all but ice the game.
Barone, however, would not settle for defeat after the C-C score, as he led Holliston all the way down the field and into the end zone. The quick drive was capped off by a fantastic individual effort, as the senior signal-caller dove for the pylon and scored from five yards out to cut the lead to five, 32-27, with 35 seconds to play.
The ensuing two-point conversion attempt was unsuccessful, and the Patriots recovered the onside kick to advance to the 9 a.m. Eastern Massachusetts D3 Super Bowl game on Saturday morning at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough.
“We basically knew it was going to be a hard fought game,” said Craan. “Coming into the game Coach said it was going to be a senior game so we all just had to step up.”
Low Numbers, Big Effort: Holliston had one of the smallest rosters in the 2011 Eastern Massachusetts playoffs, with 40 players. With what they lacked in numbers they made up for with experience, skill and effort as the defending Eastern Massachusetts Division 3 Super Bowl Champions did not quit at any point on the night.
“They are really well coached so they knew what we were trying to do,” said Robichaud. “We kind of out physical’d them but they got us a little more one dimensional then we wanted to be.”
Down Lineman: In the fourth quarter C-C lost senior offensive lineman Owen Guattaduaro to a knee injury as they were driving toward the end zone.
After the game, instead of huddling at midfield, the team all ran over to the sideline bench to be with their fallen teammate and celebrate the win while listening to the coaches.
“It was a group effort and without my O-line I would not have got any of the yards I had,” said Craan.
On Saturday’s opponent Oliver Ames: “They have an unbelievable tradition in that town”, said Robichaud of Oliver Ames. “We know that they have been down for awhile but Coach (Jim) Artz has done a great job of getting them back.”
CONCORD-CARLISLE 32, HOLLISTON 27
C-C (12-0) - 0 - 16 - 8 - 8 --- 32
HOL (9-2) - 8 - 6 - 7 - 6 --- 27
H – Brody Ciarcello 38 pass from Dan Barone (Stephen Hennessy run)
C – George Craan 3 run (Craan run)
C – Craan 24 run (Henry Bumpus pass from Ryan Hoey)
H – Ciarcello 17 pass from Barone (rush failed)
C – Craan 4 run (Craan run)
H – Max Athy 24 pass from Barone (Barone kick)
C – Craan 6 run (Tyquan Culbreath run)
H – Barone 5 run (rush failed)