BOSTON -– When a high school list among its graduates names like famous physicist Edward Charles Pickering, renowned astronomer Benjamin Gould and computer scientist Guy Steele, Jr., it’s not surprising that the students might be known for precision and efficiency.
On Thanksgiving morning, that translated to the gridiron.
The Boston Latin Wolfpack scored 44 points, despite running just 18 plays from scrimmage, cruising to a 44-15 win over rival Boston English in the 126th edition of the nation’s oldest continuous high school football rivalry.
The key turning point in the game came early in the second quarter. Leading 14-0 on a pair of touchdown runs by senior Jhalen Bien-Aime, Latin scored two offensive touchdowns in a span of 44 seconds to open a 30-0 lead.
After English went three-and-out on its second possession of the game, a bad punt gave Latin solid field position at the English 33. One play later, quarterback Patrick Fahey ran a keeper, taking the ball 33 yards for the touchdown. Bien-Aime’s two-point conversion run expanded the Latin lead to 22-0.
English’s glimmer of hope came on the ensuing kickoff, when senior standout Daquawnn Gunter returned the ball 50 yards to the Latin 39. But the very next play, the Wolfpack forced a fumble that senior Mike Surdek pounced on.
On the ensuing play Surdek kept the momentum, scampering 59 yards on just his second carry of the game with 7:31 remaining in the half.
Suddenly a close game became a runaway.
“We just gave up that long kick return, they called a timeout and our coach called us over and said we needed to make a play,” said Surdek of the fumble recovery. “We blitzed the two inside linebackers and scared the center or something. That was a big change.
“Then it was my second run of the game and I saw the hole opposite of where it was designed, so I cut back and all I saw was green.”
Said Surdek, the feeling of making those plays on what is the team’s biggest stage of the season was unmatched.
“There’s hundreds of alumni here to watch, people who played in the game, so it’s unbelievable,” Surdek said. “Our coach talked about next year and what this game can say about the program. That’s our legacy right there.”
Despite the hefty deficit, English showed little quit and, from that point, was actually the better team on the field.
The Blue-on-Blue engineered long offensive drives to calm the Wolfpack’s momentum. English drove 37 yards on 15 plays in 7:23, but couldn’t punch the ball in before the halftime whistle.
To being the second half, English put together a 13-play, 60-yard drive over 9:07 that concluded in a Dhe’Jour Relerford quarterback sneak from 1 yard out to get the Blue on the board.
After another 13-yard touchdown run for Surdek capping a five-play Latin drive, English again moved the ball successfully, going 64 yards in nine plays before Relerford found Gunter for an 11-yard touchdown with 2:43 remaining.
Again, though, Latin had its final answer as Mike Cronin returned the ensuing kickoff 60 yards for a touchdown, accounting for the 44-15 final.
When the game was over, English had possessed the ball for 29:22 of the 40 minutes and run 50 plays. But it was Latin’s efficiency that got the best of the Blue on this day.
“We want to play a ball-control type of game,” said English head coach Chris Boswell. “We’re trying to slow down the game and we did it in the second half. I’m pleased that we finished the game. It was ironman football.”
English continues to improve under Boswell, Lamb: English head coach Chris Boswell was quick to point out his team’s improvements in Thursday’s game, one where the final score wasn’t indicative of the game on the field. The 15 points English mustered against Latin is the most since 1999, when Latin won, 42-20.
“We haven’t put up 15 [points] in my three years,” said Boswell. “And that’s the lowest points we’ve allowed [to Latin] in my three years.”
Some perspective on these superlatives are necessary. Two years ago, Latin won 54-12, a game in which English’s offense looked non-existent. The team’s two scores in the game came on a game-opening kickoff return and one run that broke for 60-plus yards.
Last year was even worse as English was shutout, 50-0, the most lop-sided decision in the storied rivalry.
This year’s English offense looks considerably more mature. Most of the snaps that Dhe’Jour Relerford took came under center as opposed to an unsuccessful Wildcat formation that the Blue had run in Boswell’s first two seasons.
Some of the credit certainly goes to English assistant Tom Lamb. The retired Natick legendary head coach has been helping Boswell run the offense for the past two seasons. Given some more depth, this is one football team that could continue to get better.
Ball, responsible for first forward pass in rivalry, presented pre-game: Mary-Nel Allen, widow of former Boston Latin football captain Bob Allen (class of ’64), was on hand to make a special presentation prior to Thursday’s 126th edition of the Latin-English rivalry.
Allen presented Boston Latin headmaster Lynne Mooney Teta with the game-ball from the 1912 Latin-English game. It is said that ball was used to throw the first forward pass in the storied rivalry.
The Allen family came into possession of the ball in 1965, when Tom Craven, the Latin quarterback in the 1912 game, gave the ball to Allen after the 1964 team finished the season undefeated.
Boston Latin 44, Boston English 15
ENG 0 0 7 8 --- 15
BLS 14 16 0 14 --- 44
BL - Jhalen Bien-Aime 26 run (rush failed) 7:17
BL - Bien-Aime 14 run (Patrick Fahey run) 0:32
BL - Fahey 33 run (Bien-Aime run) 8:05
BL - Mike Surdek 59 run (Bien-Aime run) 7:31
BE - Dhe’Jour Relerford 1 run (Daquawnn Gunter kick) 0:46
BL - Surdek 13 run (Kevin Chen run) 7:25
BE - Gunter 11 pass from Relerford (Gunter run) 2:43
BL - Mike Cronin 60 kickoff return (kick failed) 2:32