AYER, Mass. –- This was the game both Buckingham, Browne, & Nichols and Lawrence Academy had been anticipating all year. And after a season’s worth of thought and preparation, Spartans coach Mike Taylor broke out the game plan he had set aside for Friday’s occasion.
“Everyone thinks we’re a running team,” he said. “Tonight we aired it out. We’ve been saving that all season for this special event.”
Lawrence Academy rode an impressive passing attack to a 36-7 drubbing of BB&N, to win the Independent School League championship and finish the season at a perfect 8-0, for the second consecutive season.
Quarterback Mike Orloff completed 13 of 20 passes for 261 yards and two touchdowns, and he made it look routine.
By the end of the first quarter he had completed all five of his passes and led the Spartans to a 13-0 lead. He hit Clay Horne (three catches, 45 yards) with his first two throws, which set up an Anthony Knight 23-yard touchdown run.
On LA’s next possession, Orloff hit his future University of Iowa teammate Marcus Grant (seven catches, 153 yards) three times. On the third strike, Grant got behind everyone in the Knights' secondary and reeled in a 56-yard bomb to put the Spartans up two scores.
“Linebacker right? [Orloff’s] supposed to be a linebacker in college,” Grant said. “But he was chucking the rock around. He did a great job. I had confidence in him all year that he could do that and tonight happened to be the night that he showed that.”
Just before the end of the first half, LA continued its aerial onslaught. On fourth and 17 from the 21 yard line of BB&N (7-1), the Spartans drew a pass interference penalty in the end zone. They capitalized on the opportunity when Orloff rolled to his right and found Grant dragging his feet for the touchdown as he dove out of bounds. The score made it 23-0 going into the half.
And while the Lawrence crowd ogled the air show, the Spartans were similarly efficient on the ground. Knight (11 caries, 81 yards), a bruising running back headed to North Carolina State, finished the game with 124 yards from scrimmage and added a second touchdown late in the third quarter to make the score 36-0.
“You just saw one of the best performances any high school team can put on,” said BB&N coach John Papas. “They have weapons everywhere and when they play well as they did tonight, they’re relatively flawless. I don’t know who can beat them. Our kids’ effort was phenomenal. We played our tail off. But that football team — it was like a track meet.”
Defensively, Lawrence Academy didn’t allow a completed pass until the third quarter They forced two turnovers on downs, a fumble and two interceptions. Matthew Harnum’s pick set up Knight’s second touchdown scamper.
BB&N running back Chris Coady ran for 81 yards on 21 carries, scoring on a four-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to spoil LA’s shutout.
“The defense has been the strength of our team,” said Orloff, who also plays safety. “We’ve got all those weapons on offense but out defense has really been our strength. We got a ton of turnovers, giving us good field possession. That’s what makes it easy for our offense.”
When the final seconds ran off the clock in the fourth quarter, Taylor was doused with Gatorade and Spartans supporters flooded the field. After a year of waiting, Lawrence Academy had won its second-straight ISL title.
“It’s absolutely awesome,” said Orloff, as players and fans lingered well after the lights went out. “Just trying to savor the moment.”
LAWRENCE ACADEMY 36, BB&N 7
BBN – 0 0 0 7 - 7
LA – 13 10 13 0 - 36
LA – Knight 23 run (Dominik Kozlowski kick)
LA – Orloff 56 pass to Grant (kick failed)
LA – Kozlowski 27 kick
LA – Orloff 11 pass to Grant (Kozlowski kick)
LA – Owen Moore 4 run (Kozlowski kick)
LA – Knight 16 run (kick failed)
BBN – Coady 4 run (Ralph Malin kick)