BRIDGEWATER — Dan Buron didn’t want to be in this position, but after 14th-ranked Bridgewater-Raynham chewed, clawed, and scrapped to within 2 points before losing to top-ranked Barnstable, 27-25, Friday night, the Trojans’ coach ended up on the quiet sideline of his own field, wondering if he called the wrong play.
By most accounts, Barnstable was the better team, as the Raiders’ almost mechanical offense was clicking and the defense was careful and physical, frequently sending the opposition limping to the sideline.
But after a wild fourth quarter that included two fumble recoveries, two interceptions, and a kickoff return for a touchdown, Bridgewater-Raynham had its chance to tie the game after Brandon Gallagher scored on a 2-yard run.
Needing 2 points, Buron called for an option-pass with senior wideout Kevin Wadsworth, who had wobbled off the field in the first half after taking a helmet-to-helmet hit in the end zone. The Barnstable defense didn’t bite and Wadsworth was sacked in the backfield.
“I’m questioning myself a little bit,” Buron said. “We were going to fake the sweep, hope he got up, and — I don’t know. I shouldn’t have — I think Kevin was a little nicked up. It was my fault. He tried to execute. He’s a [heck] of a ballplayer.”
After failing to recover an onside kick, the Trojans (4-4) came up with a huge defensive stop and got the ball back at their 6-yard line with 1:43 to play, but the Barnstable defense stood strong and clinched the win.
“We knew it was going to be a dogfight,” said Barnstable coach Chris Whidden. “Every time we thought it’s time to take a breath, something would happen.”
Barnstable clinched the Old Colony League title and will again play Lincoln-Sudbury in the playoffs. L-S won, 14-13, in last year’s Division 1A semifinal before losing to Everett in the Super Bowl.
The Raiders (8-0) jumped out to a 14-0 lead after senior quarterback Nick Peabody, who finished 11 of 20 for 179 yards and two touchdowns, dissected the B-R defense with ease in consecutive drives, hitting Dylan Morris on a 35-yard fade for the first score and running the second one in from 2 yards.
Bridgewater-Raynham tried getting the passing game established early as quarterback Jordan Cohen played a strong first half, culminating in a 15-yard touchdown pass to Wadsworth in the second quarter. Wadsworth, who stood up after getting hit in the head, missed the extra point.
Back to work from his own 21-yard line in the third quarter, Cohen dropped back for a screen pass and didn’t see Barnstable linebacker Jason Frieh, who picked it off and ran it to the end zone as Barnstable took a 21-6 lead.
“We went over that play at halftime,” Frieh said. “I set up in that lane and he threw it right in my chest. I couldn’t believe he threw it.”
After the teams exchanged touchdowns, the game turned chaotic.
B-R junior Ryan Martin ran back an 82-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and Barnstable fumbled the next kickoff.
Cohen turned the ball over two plays later on an interception.
Peabody was then sacked and fumbled the ball back to B-R, which scored on a 2-yard run by Gallagher. That’s when the 2-point attempt failed.