FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- When you reach the grandest stage, mistakes appear to be magnified 100 times more than what you normally would see throughout the regular season. When it comes to championship tilts, any miscue, no matter how pertinent, is often the difference between winning and losing.
Littleton learned that the hard way on Saturday. The Tigers made enough of them to allow Cohasset to take control of things during the second half en route to a 35-22 triumph in the Division 6 Super Bowl held at Gillette Stadium.
After surrendering an early Littleton touchdown, the Skippers scored the next 35 points before the Tigers mustered up a bit of pride late by scoring a pair of touchdowns.
Cohasset (11-2) took control of things in the third quarter and for much of the fourth, earning its first postseason football title in school history. Last year, when these two teams faced one another here, it was the Tigers who came out on top, winning a shootout 52-35.
In the rematch, it was the Skippers who dominated both sides of the ball. They amassed 411 offensive yards, while limiting Litteton (10-2) to 296. Senior running back Cole Kissick, who missed most of the season due to a torn left meniscus, rushed for 187 yards on 19 carries. Quarterback Danny Axelson had a pedestrian 4 for 6 passing for 104 yards. The junior threw for one touchdown and ran for another. Junior Nick Hall also found the end zone twice, scoring on runs of 8 and 23 yards, respectively.
"You couldn't have written a script for this any better," Skippers head coach Peter Afanasiw. "When you lose Cole in the first game of the season you don't know where your offense is going to come from. But you get other guys who emerge. Guys like Nick, Jack (Donahue) and Danny, who just kept getting better and better. Our defense also did a great job today. For three quarters they shut Littleton down big time."
The Skippers went up by two touchdowns midway through the third quarter on a 25-yard pass from Axelson to Donahue, in which the tight end slipped behind the Tigers secondary for an easy six points. Littleton put forth a sustained drive on its ensuing possession, aided by two Cohasset fourth down penalties. But the drive stalled with quarterback Connor Bassett getting sacked by lineman Alex Norton on fourth down.
The Skippers took over and marched 62 yards on nine plays with Hall busting through for this second touchdown from 23 yards to make it 28-8 early in the fourth. Moments later, Bassett, who was playing with an injured leg suffered in the opening quarter, was picked off by defensive back Adam Benson giving the Skippers the ball on the Tigers 32. An option pass from Hall to Brett Dooley netting 28 yards, set up Axelson's 2-yard keeper into the end zone to extend Cohasset's advantage to 27 points with just over six minutes remaining.
"I feel Cohasset was the better team and controlled the line of scrimmage," said Littleton head coach Mike Lynn. "It felt like they could run the ball on us and we didn't have much success running the ball. As much as we like to pass it around, high school football is still a running game. Whoever controls the running game and the line of scrimmage usually wins."
To Littleton's credit, there was no waving of the white flag. A Bassett (14 of 27 for 168 yards, 2 interceptions) 8 yard touchdown toss to Chris Renaccio inched the Tigers a bit closer. Littleton then lined up for the on-side kick which proved successful after Elijah Henderson fell on it at the Skippers 49. Littleton converted the opportunity with senior back Elijah Pyram darting 21 yards up the middle for the score with 2:23 left. Pyram, the Tigers' top running threat, finished with 95 yards on 15 attempts.
"There was no quit in any of our guys," Lynn said. "We stormed back, got the on-side kick, to make it interesting. But unfortunately it was too little, too late."
A 20 yard scoring strike from Bassett to Renaccio (6 receptions for 82 yards) on the TIgers' opening possession had them in front 8-0, with Pyram running in the follow-up two point conversion. But Cohasset answered moments later with Kissick breaking loose through the gap 77 yards, putting the Skippers on the board down by a point.
"This wasn't about just coming to Gillette, but coming out of here with the championship trophy," said Kissick. "We didn't want anything else. We've been on a mission the whole year. My team allowed me to play again after the injury and I am forever blessed. It was a long road back. I'm so happy to be here and be able to complete the year off with a bang. This is my last game so I just went all out today and left everything on the field."
Early in the second quarter, Dooley stepped in front of a Bassett pass putting the Skippers's offense back in business. They moved it to the Littleton 33 before fumbling it away which was recovered by Steve Collins.
On Cohasset's next possession, Axelson completed passes to Dooley (31 yards) and Benson (26). Setting up shop on the Tigers 8, Hall, the up back, took the hand-off and ran into the end zone untouched, giving Cohasset the lead 14-8 with under 1:30 remaining before halftime.
"Nick is an absolute speciman," Afanasiw said. "He's wiry and is he is just a great athlete. He runs like he is 200 pounds and not 165 pounds."