HAVERHILL, Mass. – “This is a program game,” Haverhill head coach Tim O’Connor told his team after their thrilling 30-23 win over Chelmsford (4-1) on Saturday evening.
With the game tied at 23-23 senior quarterback Tommy Morgan led the Hillies on a 71-yard drive that ended with a 10-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Jordan Javier with 7.7 seconds remaining on the clock.
“I actually called for a field goal first and I said to myself, there is too much time,” O’Connor explained after the game. “I have a senior quarterback and a great receiver so I pulled them aside and said, let’s throw a fade. Everyone in the house knew the fade was coming. Either Javier is catching it or nobody is catching it.”
On the final drive Haverhill (4-1) star running back Chance Brady ran for 33 of his game-high 204 yards on two big carries up the middle. Morgan also connected with wide receiver Shane Roche for a chain-moving completion that brought the ball into Lions territory.
“We knew that Jordan was going to be double covered so I just threw the ball up to Shane over the middle and he made a great play,” Morgan said of the play.
The touchdown pass to Javier was his second touchdown reception of the second half. The 6-foot-4 standout wide receiver totaled five catches for 62 yards on the night.
“A big difference is that we have weapons on the outside this year,” O’Connor said. “Every week it is someone different and if you want to put eight in the box, go ahead, as we have a 6-foot-4 receiver who we can throw the ball up to in the end zone.”
Special teams were also crucial for both teams as both place kickers came up with big kicks down the stretch in the pouring rain.
After a 32-yard Patrick Yale field goal that broke a 20-20 tie late in the final quarter Chelmsford kicker Charlie Calenda matched him by booting a 29-yard field goal with 55.2 seconds to tie the game at 23-23.
Chelmsford led 14-7 at the half and 20-7 in the third quarter before the Hillies mounted their second half comeback.
Morgan’s Magic: A three-year starter at the quarterback position, Morgan has seen the Hillies go from 0-11 in 2010, to 4-7 in 2011, to 4-1 to start the 2012 season.
“This was a program changer,” Morgan said after the game. “Nobody thought we were going to win this game. For us to come out and win a game like this will make teams think twice about coming in and thinking they have a definite win.”
The senior captain completed 13 of 20 passes on the night for 154 yards and two touchdowns. He also proved his worth as he stood strong in the pocket on multiple occasions to complete passes under heavy duress.
“I have told him all along that he was going to have to win us some big games this year,” said O’Connor of his quarterback. “Chance cannot do it all for us every game. Chance is a great player and he had a great game but Tommy more than won us this one.”
D’Auria continus to run wild: D’Auria was tough to stop all night as the junior followed up his 290 yard performance last week in a win against Dracut with 158 yards rushing on 28 carries on Saturday. D’Auria’s speed and ability to stay low and run through defenders make him one of the most dangerous backs in the Merrimack Valley Conference this season.
Chelmsford sophomore Jack Campsmith also played well in his first varsity start as he completed 13 of 21 passes for 119 yards and alos had a rushing touchdown.
Calenda and tri-captain linebackers Matt Rabbito and Chris and Tony Marino all played well defensively for Chelmsford.
Upcoming Games: Both teams have one more game remaining before they dive into league play. Haverhill will travel to Billerica next Friday while Chelmsford hosts MVC D2 newcomer North Andover. Both Billerica (1-4) and North Andover (1-3) are off to slow starts but in a balanced MVC D1 and D2 this season every game is a battle and every game is up for grabs.
HAVERHILL 30, CHELMSFORD 23
HAV (4-1) 0 7 13 10 --- 30
CHE (4-1) 0 14 6 3 --- 23
C – Jack Campsmith 3 run (Charlie Calenda kick)
C – Jeff D’Auria 2 run (Calenda kick)
H – Chance Brady 42 run (Patrick Yale kick)
C – Joe St. Hilaire 30 pass from Eric Van Gelder (kick failed)
H - Brady 7 run (Yale kick)
H - Jordan Javier 16 pass from Tommy Morgan (kick failed)
H – Yale 32 field goal
C – Calenda 29 field goal
A – Javier 10 pass from Morgan (Yale kick)