SOMERSET, Mass. -- For as long as we can remember, the Eastern Athletic Conference title always runs through Bishop Feehan. And for the third straight year, the crown fell into the hands of today's matchup between those Shamrocks and the Blue Raiders of Somerset-Berkley.
And for the second straight year, the Shamrocks emerged victorious, though it wasn't nearly the 41-7 blowout they delivered a year ago. In this one, the Shamrocks rattled off 24 unanswered points, en route to a 24-7 victory on a sunny Saturday afternoon in Somerset.
With the win, Feehan clinches at least a share of the EAC crown. But even if they were to lose to Bishop Stang on Thanksgiving, the Shamrocks would still be the conference's Div. 3A playoff representative based on head-to-head with S-B.
The Shamrocks will face South Coast Conference champ Dighton-Rehoboth on Nov. 27 in a Divison 3A playoff.
"I watched my brother win a Super Bowl," said quarterback Nick Romero. "I watched Nick Schwieger, all the greats play and win Super Bowls. That's what we've been working all season for. We've got one more, then we've got D-R, just like in 2009."
Somerset got on board first, an eight-yard toss sweep from Mikey Garrant, to go up 7-0, and the Blue Raiders took a 7-6 lead into the half. But momentum swung to the Shamrocks' favor with two key sequences of events.
First, Feehan opened up its first series of the second half running midline option out of its tried and true Wing-T scheme, with two big gains out of up-back Matt Glebus (15 carries, 123 yards). He took his first carry of the drive 53 yards, bursting up the middle then cutting to his left twice, pushed out of bounds some 53 yards later. The gain was negated 20 yards thanks to a downfield block in the back, but one play later Glebus was at it again, this time just bulling straight up the middle for a 39-yard gain that put the ball at the S-B 1 yard line.
Two plays later, Romero followed his left guard over the goal line to punched it in from a yard out and give the Shamrocks their first lead of the game, 12-7 advantage.
"Nicky stepped up today," said running back Matt Allen (11 carries, 76 yards, two total TD). "He really read it nice. All season, that's what we do, we practice the option. We knew it was there, their linebackers kind filled slow, so he took it. Glebus, by the way, he stepped up. He went off today."
S-B's ensuing drive moved deep into Feehan territory, aided by a 41-yard pass completion from Jack Aramantes to Garrant,but after two failed dives found itself facing fourth and goal from the Shamrocks' five. Out of a timeout, Aramantes took a few steps to his right, threw across his body to the near pylon, and watched as safety Isaiah Douglas crashed from over the top and took the pass 60 yards the other way.
"I just knew it was coming," Douglas said. "I could tell that he was coming to the back corner."
That led to a five-play 40-yard scoring drive capped with a 14-yard screen pass from Romero to Allen, for an 18-7 lead with 6:07 to go. Allen added another score late for good measure.
Setting the edge: The Shamrocks are no stranger to S-B's vaunted double wing attack by now, and head coach Curt Smith stressed the outside gaps in practice this week. With Chris Barthe, Mitch Martin and Zach Forget
"Win the C and D gap battle," Smith said. "If we can control the off-tackle and outside, when you take that away it's all play action passes. That's it. You can't sit back and read it and hope for it. You've got to smack them in the mouth in the C and D gap, and play the play action passes. That formula so far has worked for us. It's the only way I know, and it's worked so far."
Plenty to boot: In the box score, Allen will go down as 0-for-2 on point after kicks. But as is the case every now and then, stats can be misleading.
One of the most underrated angles in the Shamrocks' surge over the final three quarters was Allen's booming blasts on kickoffs. Allen recorded three touchbacks on the day, including two in the fourth quarter. The Raiders' offense isn't always built to score quick when playing from behind, so with 80 yards to go o their final two drives of the game, it was an added layer to what was an uphill battle.
BISHOP FEEHAN 24, SOMERSET-BERKLEY 7
BF (7-2, 3-0) 0 6 6 12 --- 24
SB (9-1, 3-1) 0 7 0 0 --- 7
S - Mikey Garrant 8 run (T.J. Eisele kick) 5:42
B - Isaiah Douglas 17 run (kick failed) 3:03
B - Nick Romero 1 run (rush failed) 3:51
B - Matt Allen 14 pass from Romero (pass failed) 6:07
B - Allen 4 run (kick failed) 3:23