Boston High School: Drew Korn

Recap: Marlborough 28, Nashoba 24

October, 11, 2013
MARLBOROUGH, Mass. -- It was more than just your run-of-the-mill high school football game.

For Marlborough, it was a chance to make believers out of naysayers. The Panthers came into Friday's contest against rival Nashoba Regional spotless, having won its first four games of the season.

On the surface, that might seem impressive, but upon further review, the opponents Marlborough had defeated entering Friday’s action were a combined 3-13. Facing the Chieftains at historic Kellerher Field represented the first true litmus test of the season for this group. How they would stack up against a worthy opponent was anyone's guess.

Nashoba, like Marlborough, also had something to prove on this crisp autumn evening. The Chieftains' school-record of 29 consecutive victories was snapped a week ago against St. John's (Shrewsbury). Having not lost a game since 2010, first-year head coach Jamie Tucker spoke prior to kickoff that it was time for his team to deal with it and move on.

Following Marlborough's gut-check 28-24 victory, both teams proved their mettle in a number of ways. The Panthers, who last defeated the Chieftains in 2005, erased an 11-point deficit heading into the final quarter. A 28-yard touchdown pass from John Rumney to Jose Caquias was followed by a Leo Coelho conversion reception that left Marlborough trailing by only three points, 24-21, with just under nine minutes to go.

On the Chieftains' next series, it appeared they would go up by two scores again after driving 63 yards. Facing a fourth-and-goal inside the 5-yard line, the Panther defense stiffened and stopped Nashoba at the 1, taking over possession.

With momentum now clearly in Marlborough's favor, Rumney (18-of-31, 256 yards, 3 TD) directed the Panthers downfield. A crucial first down completion by senior receiver Matt Thall on fourth-and-10 allowed the drive to continue. Seven plays later, Rumney hit Thall again, this time on a slant pattern in the end zone with 1:08 remaining, to give Marlborough (5-0) the lead for good.

"Our defense made a huge stop on their drive," said Thall, who finished with eight catches for 114 yards. "We got the ball back and drove the length of the field to win it. Certainly, this is our first signature win of the season. We beat all the teams we were suppose to beat and tonight this was a real test for us and were able to come out on top. We have a lot of things going for us right now."

The conclusion to this game did not come without some edge-of-your-seat dramatics.

Nashoba (3-2) showed tremendous grit in staging a final comeback bid following the Panther touchdown. Senior quarterback Matt Mudgett (180 yards on 13 of 19 attempts, TD) completed five passes as part of a 63-yard drive, getting the ball to the Panther 13 with less than 10 seconds to go. But solid man-to-man defense forced Mudgett to sail his final two passes out of the end zone.

"Any loss is tough," said Tucker, after his team finished with 383 yards offensively. "We played hard but Marlborough made a few more plays and that was the difference in the game. That last drive was a huge test of character for us.

“They had that long drive for the touchdown and it's hard to fight back from that which we did. But unfortunately we weren't able to put the ball into the end zone. Matt Mudgett played tremendous for us tonight. He stood in there and took a lot of hits. I cannot say enough about him. He just played great."

Marlborough, which accumulated 376 yards of offense, wasted little time grabbing the lead in this one. Just two plays in, Rumney tossed an out-pass to Caquias, who darted down the left sideline 63 yards to put the Panthers on top 6-0.

Drew Korn's 31-yard field goal midway through the opening quarter put Nashoba on the board, trailing 6-3. Senior running back Matt Sabourin's 24-yard scoring scamper up the middle with 3:57 still remaining in the quarter then pushed the Chieftains ahead 10-6.

Sabourin led Nashoba's ground game with 105 yards on 14 attempts.

Marlborough moved back ahead with 6:05 left before halftime.

A 33-yard catch by Thall set up William Cowdrey's 1-yard scoring run. Cowdrey, a junior, carried the ball 19 times for 108 yards. The offensive fireworks continued. A blocked punt from Nashoba's Nick Tavis led to Mudgett's 51-yard strike to receiver Kevin Connelly in the closing minutes to send Nashoba into the break leading 17-13.

The Chieftains' momentum carried over into the third quarter.

An Eli Williams interception at the goal line, following a sustained Panther drive, allowed Nashoba to dodge a major bullet. After the pick, the Chieftains proceeded to march 68 yards before Frankie Chiodo blasted into the end zone from 13 yards out, putting Nashoba in command at 24-13.

"This was a one play game throughout for both teams," Panthers coach Sean Mahoney said. "Marlborough and Nashoba have had some tremendous games through the years and this is just another one.

“Even though Nashoba scored 24 points, I still felt our defense played well. We hadn't been very good defensively, but tonight we were good when we had to be. Offensively, nothing fazes these kids. They just go out and keep making plays."

Recap: No. 8 Nashoba 33, No. 24 Holy Name 8

September, 29, 2012
BOLTON, Mass. -– Nashoba running back John Ojukwu was a man on a mission on Friday night as the senior scored all five of the Chieftain’s touchdowns in a 33-8 victory over Holy Name (2-2).

"It was a great team performance and an outstanding individual one, obviously, for John Ojukwu," Nashoba head coach Ken Tucker said. “We just wanted to get him the ball and we did tonight, and he just did the rest.” He probably told you he had some good blocking, but there were a couple of times he did some things on his own.”

Nashoba (4-0) received an All-State effort on the evening from Ojukwu, who ran for 270 yards on only 11 carries on the evening. With Nashoba leading big at the half in their prior three wins Ojukwu had only 250 yards and six touchdowns on 17 carries coming into the game.

Holy Name also went to battle with one of the State’s top backs in senior Quron Wright. Wright did his part for the Naps as he ran for 251 yards on 32 carries and one touchdown. The meeting of two of the top backs was not lost on Ojukwu, who used the match-up as motivation for his performance.

“That made me want to work harder,” said Ojukwu of the match-up with Wright. ”I rested up my injuries and came out here ready to play.”

Ojukwu exploded for three first half touchdowns to pace the Chieftains early as they took a 20-0 lead in to the half. Ojukwu scored on runs of 15, 13 and 83 in the opening half.

“It was not all me,” Ojukwu said. “It was a team effort. I may have scored all the touchdowns but the team won.”

Nashoba did an equally impressive job defensively in the opening half as they forced two first quarter fumbles that they recovered in Holy Name territory.

“We have some very talented players on defense with Zach Hume and Jack Sarnoski,” Tucker said. “He (Sarnoski) is probably the least know, excellent linebacker in Central Massachusetts, if not the state. Frankie Chiodo also played a very good game and so did Paul Louissant. We kept rotating those guys in there. The linebackers are really the key.”

Holy Name came out of the second half with a renewed focus as they stopped Nashoba, three-and-out, on the opening drive of the half. The Naps followed that stop with a 12 play, 67-yard drive capped off by a Wright 4-yard touchdown. Wright would also add the 2-point conversuon to cut the lead to 20-8 with 2:11 remainig in the third quarter.

It would not take long for Nashoba to respond as Ojukwu busted a 57-yard touchdown run, less than a minute later, to extend the lead to 28-6 heading into the final quarter of play. After Nashoba stopped Holy Name to on a fourth down play Ojukwu would put the game to rest as he ran 55 yards for his fifth and final touchdown.

Nashoba also received a strong effort defensively from defensive back Brady Schartner, who was in on both Holy Name first quarter fumbles.

The road ahead: The Chieftains have now outscored their opponents by a total score of 160-32 in their first four games. They host Marlborough and Clinton in their next two games before hitting the road on October 20 to take on Westborough.

Holy Name will stay on the road for their next two contests against Doherty and Milford before heading home on October 20 to take on Gardner.

“Give them credit,” Tucker said of Holy Name. “They are easily the toughest team we have played this year.”

Nashoba defeated Holy Name in the 2011 Central Massachusetts Division 2 Super Bowl 27-0.

“I would not be surprised if we see them again,” Tucker concluded.

NAS (4-0) 14 6 6 7 --- 33
HON (2-2) 0 0 8 0 --- 8

First Quarter
N – John Ojukwu 15 run (Drew Korn kick)
N - Ojukwu 13 run (Korn kick)

Second Quarter
N - Ojukwu 83 run (kick failed)

Third Quarter
H – Quron Wright 4 run (Wright run)
N – Ojukwu 57 run (rush failed)

Fourth Quarter
N – Ojukwu 55 run (Korn kick)