WEST ROXBURY, Mass. - Western Massachusetts, stand up.
Benjamin "Cool Hand Luke" Sterritt booted a 20-yard field goal with five seconds remaining in the game to lead the 17th-ranked Longmeadow Lancers to a fourth-quarter, 10-point comeback win over No. 7 Catholic Memorial, 27-26.
"It's a great win, especially coming down here from Longmeadow," Longmeadow captain Jeffrey Anderson said. "In Western Mass., we're always looked down upon, like 'We don't play anybody'. Coming down here and beating an Eastern Mass. power feels great."
Longmeadow was up 17-14 at halftime, but lost the lead in the third quarter. Up 26-17, going into the fourth, Catholic Memorial was looking to hold onto the lead, but Longmeadow was looking to go back to Western Massachusetts with a win.
Longmeadow was moving down the ball downfield with their sights on the end zone, but Jacob Lazarus fumbled a snap and CM took over with 2:52 left in the game. All Catholic Memorial had to do was hold onto the ball.
Easier said than done.
After a 35-yard run by William Earl, CM had trouble moving the ball, with 4- and 1-yard runs by A.J. Doyle. On third and five, Earl was stopped for a nine yard loss by Longmeadow's Ryan Barry.
On fourth and 14 from the 29, Catholic Memorial went for the end zone with Doyle throwing one up top for Reeves, and he caught it -- out of bounds.
Taking over from the 29, the Lancers went to the air. Passes for 18, 13 and six yards got Longmeadow across the 50 and down to the 34 with 50 seconds remaining in the game. A 5-yard rush by Terry Norris got the Lancers down to the 29 with 44 seconds left and the first down.
After a failed pass, Nathan Elder took a handoff from Lazarus and went left, but stuck the ball in the gut of Sterritt. The play, a crossbuck, had gained them many yards on the night even up to that point.
"We worked on it a whole lot this week," Longmeadow coach Alex Rotsko said . "We haven't run it a whole this year. We had been running it a little bit too slow. It's a play that you've got to hit quick."
With a huge hole waiting for him, Sterritt took the ball down to the four. Longmeadow was now within field goal distance of the win. After a rush for no gain and a failed pass, Norris brought the ball to the middle of the field on third down.
On fourth and goal from the 2, the cool-handed Sterritt sailed a 20-yard field goal through the uprights to give Longmeadow a good reason to have taken the four hour ride into Boston.
"I went in confident," Sterrit said, who missed a 28-yard field goal earlier in the game. "I was surprised when I missed the [early kick]. The second one was just a chip shot."
After losing their 17-14 halftime lead and getting down 26-17, Longmeadow put the ball on the ground and marched 82 yards for a score in 1:58. The drive, led by the hard-nosed running of Terry Norris (3 carries on the drive, 38 yards), and the 3-yard toss left for Nathan Elder, who was escorted to the end zone by Sterritt, Patrick Scott and Nicholas Zwaan, putting the Lancers on the board for the first time in the half. The Sterritt extra point made the game 26-24.
Doyle came out the gate with two quick dashes for first downs. After that series, a run for lost yardage, a failed pass of the receivers hands, the 5-yard run was not enough.
Doyle's punt rolled down to the 2, but the Lancers fought their way out of safety danger area out to the Knights' 39. A Lazarus fumble gave CM another chance to put it into the end zone, but they could not capitalize on the opportunity.
"Whoever wants it more," Lazarus said, "whoever fights harder wins the game."
LM 7 10 0 10 27
CM 0 14 12 0 26
L - Benjamin Sterritt 1 run (Sterritt kick)
L - Terry Norris 1 run (Sterritt kick)
C - Armani Reeves 11 run (Tom Byrne kick)
C - John Gorman 16 pass from Adam Doyle (Byrne kick)
L - Sterritt 30 FG
C - Reeves 11 pass fromDoyle (kick failed)
C - William Earl 42 run (rush failed)
L - Nathan Elder 3 run (Sterritt kick)
L - Sterritt 20 FG