WESTWOOD — Well before the first snap of the game Friday night, fans were told they would be in for a treat. After the final whistle, they were welcome to stay for a fireworks display as part of upcoming Westwood Day festivities.
But the fireworks in the sky could not match the fireworks on the field. In a battle of Division 4 heavyweights, Westwood took over first place in the Tri-Valley Large, with a thrilling 43-41 double-OT victory over Holliston.
“That’s a great football team we just beat,” said Wolverines coach Ed Mantie. “We’re going to see them again on Thanksgiving. Most likely we’re going to see them again in the playoffs. They’re a really good, well-coached football team, and to beat them, we had to play our best game, and we pretty much did.”
Tied at 35 after the first overtime, Holliston had possession to begin the second. Facing fourth and 9, Panthers quarterback Matt Jeye (253 passing yards, three TDs) found Zach Elkinson along the right sideline for the final of his three touchdowns. On top, 41-35, and forced to go for the 2-point conversion by rule, Jeye peeled right and stretched for the pylon, but his bid fell inches short. Westwood then had its turn from the 10-yard line.
But the Wolverines failed to make the drive easy on themselves. Following the first snap, they were called for holding, sending them to the 16-yard line. On the next play, quarterback Bo Berluti (89 passing yards, 161 rushing yards, three total touchdowns) was sacked for a loss of 7 by junior linebacker Joe Bellomo. After Berluti set up a third and 20 with a 3-yard dive, Westwood was called for a false start. In need of the tying touchdown, the Wolverines were looking at third and 25.
Berluti lined up in shotgun formation, took the snap, and found wide receiver Chris Hanley over the top for a touchdown. After attempting to draw the Panthers offsides, Berluti called timeout, and relayed something he saw to Mantie.
“We called a timeout and I told coach, ‘Did you see how much open space there was to the left?’ ” said Berluti, “and he said, ‘Yeah, I did.’ I said let’s run our QB follow to the left.”
The sweep would end up being the correct call. The senior scampered in for the 3-yard score and continued running as teammates chased after him in celebration.
With less than 20 seconds remaining in the game, Holliston had a chance to win it. Jeye found junior Nick Athy (six receptions, 135 yards in the second half) for a 51-yard strike to the Westwood 17. Jeye lined up for the potential winning field goal. His kick was on line, but fell just short, pushing the game into overtime.
In the first OT, the Wolverines benefited from a pass-interference penalty in the end zone on fourth down. Dan Roache then scored on a run but Westwood failed on the 2-point attempt. After Holliston scored to tie the game, Jeye missed the extra point.