Boston High School: Gilberto Brown

Recap: No. 6 Chelmsford 28, Lowell 22

November, 6, 2011

LOWELL, Mass. -- Lowell had a chance to tie Saturday night's game with No. 6 Chelmsford late in the fourth quarter and they needed one yard to continue their drive, but that did not occur. Instead, Lions junior defensive lineman Lou Ferrer stuffed Ngaiiva Mason for no gain, giving the Lions the ball back and a chance to go ahead two touchdowns. Despite giving up one more, this defensive stop gave Chelmsford the cushion they needed to ride out the rest of the 28-22 win over its Merrimack Valley Conference rival.

“It was gut check time for us at that point,” Chelmsford head coach Bruce Rich said.

In the third quarter, Chelmsford fumbled the ball on the opening drive and had a three-and-out series while Lowell was able to get on the board with 9:08 left in the third and again on the first play of the fourth quarter, tying the Lions 14-14 and showing signs of a potential upset. Chelmsford then took two straight drives into the end zone, one 4:06 (54 yards) and the other 2:21 (71 yards).

Lowell was able to score with six seconds left to bring them within eight and R.J. Noel’s PAT rush brought it within 6, but a failed onside kick allowed Chelmsford to cruise.

“We’ll take a win,” Rich said. “I don’t care who it is in this league … they’re hard to get.”

The 5-foot-11, 290-pound junior came up with a huge tackle late in the fourth to get the ball back for the Lions, but Rich is used to seeing Ferrer tackle opponents. As a wrestler for Chelmsford, Ferrer has plenty of practice grabbing and slamming guys down to the mat. Rich thinks that he transfers some of those skills well into football.

“Lou plays low,” Rich said. “He’s very, very good in clinches and he knows how to get by people. Again, he plays low, he’s an immovable object, so he kind of spear heads that front line and the other guys are making plays off of him.”

Aside from the usual off sides, pass interference and false start penalties, roughing the passer and unnecessary roughness penalties were flying fairly frequently for both teams.

“The game got a little chippy, there was some extra stuff going on,” Rich said.

When asked if they were discussing chemistry after the play was dead, Ferrer made it clear that the Lions and Red Raiders were not talking about bonds or the periodic table.

“It was a lot of talking back and forth going on after the plays… A lot of penalties on us but we kind of stuck in there and played hard."

Rich was not so convinced that the players were aware of their surroundings due to the energy at Cawley Stadium and chalked it up to adrenaline.

“It was such a physical game; I don’t think the kids heard the whistle every time.”

The Chelmsford offensive line opened up holes late in the fourth quarter to allow running backs Eddie Sheridan and Colby Emanouil the space they needed to get the first down, but in each case on fourth and one, Sheridan and Emanouil got more than they needed. They knew that a one score lead against Lowell wouldn’t be enough to secure the win, so the backs and the linemen gave a little more than expected to pull out the win last night.

“Our line blocked real well tonight,” Rich said. “They bought 7, 8, 9 guys, they were coming all night long. I thought we picked up many of their stunters.”

Sheridan, (2 rushing TDs) appreciates the feeling of getting the ball down the stretch in a tight situation and getting the necessary yardage.

“That’s my favorite part of the game, just getting that yard, I love it.”

Sheridan admitted that like any team, the lineman and the running backs go back and forth with barbs, but when it counts, in the fourth quarter marching down the field, there is no contention in the Lion pride – they are hunting together.

“We’re a family. We play hard and finish hard.”

C (8-1) 0 - 14 - 0 - 14 --– 28
L (5-4) 0 - 0 - 7 - 15 –-- 22

C – Colby Emanouil 15 run (PAT failed)
C – Eddie Sheridan 13 run (Sheridan pass from Emanouil)
L – Gilberto Brown 40 pass from R.J. Noel (Connor McHugh kick)
L – Noel 11 run (McHugh kick)
C – Sheridan 2 run (Charlie Calenda kick)
C – Emanouil 41 run (Calenda kick)
L – Brown 9 pass from Noel (Noel rush)

Recap: No. 20 Billerica 40, Lowell 30

October, 29, 2011
BILLERICA, Mass. -- The scoreboard may have said 40-30 in favor of Billerica over Lowell Friday, but it was a lot closer than it appeared. The Red Raiders fought hard, even tying the game at one point, but they never could take the lead.

The No. 20 Indians jumped out to an early 14-0 lead when Byron Ramirez ran for two touchdowns on his team’s first two drives of the game.

Both offenses struggled to score for the remainder of the first half, but Billerica (6-1) took a 14-6 lead into the break.

The fireworks started right at the beginning of the half. On the opening drive of the second half, Lowell (5-3) moved the ball down the field in barely over two minutes. Quarterback R.J. Noel hit Jack Galvin for a 10-yard touchdown, and then successfully executed a 2-point conversion pass to tie the game at 14.

Billerica came back and answered with a two-minute drive of its own, which was capped off when Nick LaSpada found Cam Slatton running a post pattern towards the right pylon and put the ball over his shoulder for the touchdown.

The team extended its lead in the fourth quarter when Ramirez ran for another touchdown, again putting his team up by two scores.

“We came out in the first quarter moving the ball well, but then we stalled there a little bit in the second,” LaSpada said. “At halftime, we made a couple adjustments and came out flying here in the fourth quarter and put the game away.”

Ramirez ended the game with 21 carries for 117 yards and 3 touchdowns. He was Billerica’s leading rusher, but LaSpada was right behind him with 112 yards rushing of his own.

“The offensive line really stepped up, they really helped me do my thing and they did their thing,” Ramirez said. “We really stepped up. We needed this.

“Coach always says to keep running your feet. I always do that. Every time, before the play, I always think about what I’m going to do, and that really helps me out.”

Lowell did not go quietly however. On its next drive, Noel found his favorite target, Gilberto Brown, running in the secondary and connected with him for a 45-yard touchdown pass. It had another successful two-point conversion, making it a 6-point game. The Red Raiders were at a disadvantage all night because their usual field goal kicker, Connor McHugh, was out with an injury. That forced the team to go for two points after every touchdown, rather than kicking an extra point.

The two teams traded touchdowns until LaSpada hit Slatton for another touchdown pass, making it a 10-point game with two minutes to go.

Slatton had seven catches for 133 yards in the game. LaSpada was 15-of-28 for 235 yards and a touchdown through the air.

The Red Raiders turned the ball over on downs during its ensuing possession, finally allowing Billerica to breath easy knowing it was leaving with a victory.

“We have to stay tough, we have to execute play by play,” LaSpada said. “We have to stay consistent. Coach preaches that all the time that consistency is the biggest thing.”

“This win says we never give up, we always stay the course,” Ramirez added. “Coach Flynn always says, ‘Thunder and lightning, we stay the course, we never give up.”

If a quarterback throws for 326 yards and three touchdowns in a game, it would be easy to believe he played for the winning team. Friday, however, those were Noel’s numbers in a losing effort. He threw 178 of those to Brown, who had 10 catches in the game. The dual-threat quarterback is usually prolific on the ground, but the Billerica defense was able to keep him in the pocket. He ended the game with 15 carries for 50 yards and a touchdown. While his numbers are impressive, its his two interceptions that proved to be crucial. The most important was the second quarter interception caught by Slatton in the endzone on a long pass intended for Brown. The ball tipped off Brown’s hands when he jumped to catch it, and Slatton was able to secure it for the touchback. If Brown would have been able to come down with the ball, it would have been a one-score game with six minutes to go in the half. Hypothetically, that touchdown could have changed the entire complexion of the game.

In the third quarter, Noel was picked off again and Ngiiva Mason lost a fumble. While Billerica was unable to create points off the three turnovers, it was the momentum swings that resulted from them that were critical.

“Those were big,” Billerica head coach Peter Flynn said. “The kids stayed the course, they bent, but they didn’t break in those situations. We, as a coaching staff, address all the time how important that is that you bend a little bit but just as long as they don’t go in that endzone, its fine.”

When facing a quarterback like Noel or Billerica’s LaSpada, you have to be prepared for them to take off and try to run and create plays with their feet. Friday, Lowell was willing to take away that part of his game and force him to beat them with his arm. They played with a single-high safety and brought an extra defender into the box, leaving man-to-man coverage on the receivers on the outside. Rather than try to force a play with his feet, LaSpada stayed patient in the pocket and did his damage that way. He still ended the game with 112 yards rushing, but 81 of those game after halftime.

“They were giving me the cover-3 look with the free safety over the top, so I was just sitting in the pocket, finding the open guys,” he said. “There was no need for me to run until we needed the big play so I could step up and do that.”

That was nothing new for Flynn and the Billerica coaching staff.

“This is what we go over all the time in practice,” said Flynn. “He’s seen every defense in practice, from when they bring eight guys to when they drop eight guys. He’s so disciplined. As you could see, he just takes his time, surveys the situation, and makes the correct call.”

It was the Indians’ sixth win in a row after the early season 12-7 loss to Woburn. The team credits that game as a wake-up call and its seniors leadership as reasons for its turnaround.

“This is my fourth year starting with the team, so I looked at all the seniors and said that couldn’t happen again,” LaSpada said. “The first thing I thought of when I came off the field was that wasn’t supposed to happen. So I want to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

“That was a slap in the face,” Flynn said of the loss to the Tanners. “That was a reality check and wake-up call for the kids. In the preseason we had it pretty easy as far as dominance and in the first game against Burlington our kids did very well and moved the ball and scored a lot. Things were looking really good and I think we forgot what got us there. That really woke everybody up that we have to stay the course, be shoulder-to-shoulder and be one family with one heartbeat.”

Billerica - 14 0 7 19 -- 40
Lowell - 0 6 8 16 -- 30

1st quarter
B - Byron Ramirez 8-yard run (Steve Trask kick)
B - Ramirez 17-yard run (Trask kick)

2nd quarter
L - Gilberto Brown 10-yard pass from RJ Noel (2-pt conversion failed)

3rd quarter
L - Jack Galvin 10-yard pass from Noel (Brown pass from Noel)
B - Cam Slatton 35-yard pass from Nick LaSpada (Trask kick)

4th quarter
B - Ramirez 14-yard run (Trask kick)
L - Gilberto Brown 45-yard pass from Noel (Emo Beaudry pass from Noel)
B - LaSpada 5-yard run (2-pt conversion failed)
L - Noel 4-yd run (Brown pass from Noel)
B - Slatton 17-yard pass from LaSpada (kick failed)

Recap: Lowell 35, Dracut 20

October, 7, 2011
LOWELL, Mass. -- The Dracut football team found itself down by two touchdowns going into the fourth quarter Friday. It was faced with an arduous task of a 3rd-and-goal from the Lowell 19-yard line.

Dracut quarterback Jimmy Ryan dropped back to pass and surveyed the field. Seeing only a few defenders in the middle of the field, Ryan decided to run for it, figuring it was two-down territory anyway, so picking up even half that yardage would put his team in better position on fourth down.

He ran past one defender and then another, all the way down to the 1. Fourth-and-goal from the 1 was more than manageable. Ryan got up in pain after the play, holding his arm. He had to come out for the next play, preventing Dracut from having its starting quarterback on the field for the biggest play of the game.

Dracut went to a Wildcat-style formation where wide receiver Zach Bassett lined up as quarterback. Someone on the offensive line was called for a false start on the 4th-and-1 play, backing the Middies up five yards.

Now needing a touchdown from six yards away, Dante Torres took over at quarterback for Dracut. He rolled to his right on the fourth down play, but threw an incomplete pass, giving the ball back to Lowell.

The Red Raiders held on for a 35-20 victory.

Lowell (4-1) came into the game Friday known as a team that could put up a lot of points on teams, but it was its defense that made big plays in this game. On Dracut’s first offensive possession of the game, it was using the running game to attack the defense. It got out to midfield, but running back Leo Lakmany fumbled the ball going down to the ground, which was recovered by Lowell.

In the second quarter, with Dracut (2-3) punting deep in its own territory, Lowell made the decision to go after the punt with a heavy rush and try to block it. R.J. Noel was able to burst through the protection and block it. Cam Latta picked the ball up at the 8-yard line and ran it in for the touchdown.

Later in the quarter, with about a minute to go, Dracut was facing a 3rd-and-22 at midfield. Ryan dropped back and tried to throw, but was intercepted by Nyakeh Koroma. He ran it back all the way to the Dracut 13-yard line. Noel hit Gilberto Brown for a touchdown on the very next play, giving Lowell a 21-8 lead going into halftime.

The defense recovered a Ryan fumble in the last quarter when he dropped back to pass on 4th down. A few plays later, Noel ran a quarterback keeper up the middle 47 yards for a touchdown, making it 35-14.

The defense was able to get consistent pressure on Ryan throughout the night. It has been a key point of emphasis after giving up 44 points to Nashua South in the team’s only loss of the season.

“We said after the Nashua game that we wanted to make a name for the defense,” said linebacker Ryan Garrigan. “We came out and just played as hard as we could from the moment the ball was snapped.”

“Normally it’s just the offense doing their job but hey, we have to do our job. We did a great job today. We had three turnovers, which are huge. They ended up making the game go in our favor.”

This was a game of two teams notorious for their spread offenses and their dual-threat quarterbacks. Noel had 18 carries for 127 yards and a touchdown, while Ryan had 25 carries for 93 yards. Through the air, Noel was 8-of-12 for 96 yards and two touchdowns, while Ryan was 11-of-23 for 142 yards, a touchdown, and an interception.

Garrigan felt that playing against a spread offense like Dracut’s so often in practice gave the defense an upper hand when playing a quarterback like Ryan.

“They run the same stuff that we do, they just give it a different name for it,” he said. “When we practice it’s like the same thing that the offense is going to run against us, so it was nice and easy for us. It was just a matter of who was going to execute better, and we executed better tonight.”

Lowell coach John Florence said that facing the speed of a spread offense in practice helped his team immensely for Friday.

“Our ability to go no-huddle matches theirs, it’s not something different we have to prepare for, ” he said. “It’s not just spreading out the field, but it’s the speed at which they go.”

With the loss, Dracut falls to 2-3 with a difficult three-game stretch ahead of it. In consecutive weeks, they play a scrappy Tewksbury team, Chelmsford, and Andover. It will not be easy for a team hoping to be a prominent player in the Merrimack Valley Conference.

Lowell will take its 4-1 record into games against Central Catholic, Tewksbury, and Billerica.

LOWELL 7 14 7 7 -- 35
DRACUT 0 8 6 6 -- 20

1st quarter

L - Jack Galvin 2-yard pass from RJ Noel (Connor McHugh kick good)

2nd quarter
D - Dante Torres 4-yard pass from Jimmy Ryan (2-pt conversion good- Ryan pass to Jeff Breen)
L - Cam Latta 8-yard punt block return (McHugh kick good)
L - Gilberto Brown 13-yard pass from Noel (McHugh kick good)

3rd quarter
D - Zach Bassett 2-yard run (Jack MacShane kick failed- hit upright)
L - Brown 10-yard pass from Galvin (McHugh kick good)

4th quarter
L - Noel 47-yard run (McHugh kick good)
D - Bassett 2-yard run (kick failed)