- Scott Barboza, ESPN Staff Writer
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MARSHFIELD, Mass. – Jonathan Fraser was Mr. Opportunity on Saturday. When the opportunities came knocking in Marshfield’s season-opener versus Dracut, Fraser seized upon them.
After falling behind 7-0 to the Middies, it came on a play call that was a variation of the old halfback option pass. Later, it came on a loose ball Fraser scooped up and took 68 yards to put the Rams on top.
In a microcosm, Fraser’s contributions were telling of how Marshfield claimed its 33-20 win. The Rams made plays and Dracut was the team shooting itself in the foot.
“We didn’t know what to expect tonight,” Rams head coach Lou Silva said. “Based on last year and what we had coming back, we really weren’t sure. I was really proud of our kids tonight. There were a couple of times they could’ve folded, but they hung in there.”
Marshfield (1-0), the defending Eastern Mass Division IIA champions, lost 24 players from last year’s squad and will rely on players like Fraser to make plays this season.
The first chance to do so came on a pass from Charles LaPaglia — the Rams’ starting tight end. LaPaglia split out wide and took a swing pass from quarterback Mark Pomella. He then faked the run, pulled back and hit Fraser in stride for a 35-yard touchdown.
“We practiced that play all week,” Fraser said. “We knew it was coming. There’s a little pressure to think about having the ball in the air all that time, but we nailed it.
“We’ve run variations of it [in the past], but I didn’t think they were expecting for our starting tight end to be able to throw the ball that far.”
Fraser made his next big play on the ensuing drive, a 68-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown.
“Our middle linebacker Joe Hastry made a nice strip on the ball and it came right up to me,” Fraser said. “It was a like a routine ground ball, then I just had to beat that guy to the end zone.”
Marshfield held a 20-7 halftime lead despite accruing just 64 yards of total offense in the first half.
But Dracut (0-1) looked poised for a comeback at the start of the second half. Senior quarterback Matt Silva hooked up with running back Keith Hamel on an 81-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage of the third quarter.
Silva accounted for each of the Middies’ three touchdowns (two passing, one rushing) while completing 16 of 25 passing attempts for 267 yards. He also registered 16 carries for 72 yards.
But the Rams’ bend-but-don’t-break defense held just enough to secure the win, creating turnovers at opportune times — such as Fraser’s fumble recovery and a fourth-quarter interception by LaPaglia to stall a promising Dracut drive.
“We just wanted to make them work for it,” Silva said. “We knew that they were going to move the ball, we just didn’t want to give them home runs. But they did have two of them.”
Running back Brian Mey, who also had an interception, added two second-half touchdown runs to put the game out of reach.
For Dracut, there were just too many miscues to win.
The Middies muffed a punt return (with a Marshfield recovery by Zackary Pappas), which led to the first Rams’ touchdown, and also had a punt blocked (by LaPaglia — what didn’t he do?) that set up a drive which yielded a 5-yard Tom Pomella touchdown run.
“We had a punt blocked, we had a muffed punt, there were too many mistakes,” said Jason Houston, who was coaching his first game as the Middies’ helmsman. “They came back and scored off of those mistakes and if you looked at the scoreboard, it made a difference in a big way.”