MATTAPOISETT — The Abington offense and defense worked hand-in-hand on Friday night, as the No. 19 Green Wave scored 20 points off turnovers to win the Division 5 South championship, 47-20, at Old Rochester.
Abington (9-1) outscored the previously undefeated Bulldogs, 19-0, in the second half to clinch a spot in the Division 5 state semifinals next week against North champion Bishop Fenwick.
“I think we were pretty resilient in the second half,” said Abington coach Jim Kelliher. “It was a great football game against a very good football team. We slugged it out.”
The Green Wave forced four fumbles, two in Old Rochester’s first five plays of the second half.
The Bulldogs (9-1) got the ball to start the third quarter, still in the game, down, 28-20. But on the third play, quarterback Nolan Bergeron was hit as he tried to pitch an option pass, and Abington senior Steve Manning recovered the ball at Old Rochester’s 7-yard line.
Three plays later, junior Bryan Dwyer ran in a quarterback sneak for the 34-20 lead.
On the Bulldogs’ fifth play of the quarter, Bergeron threw a backward pass that was dropped. Junior defensive end Luca Cerasani made a heads-up play, scooping up the ball, and returning it 34 yards for a touchdown.
“We took advantage of some opportunities, but some of those opportunities were because of the way we played and the intensity that we played with,” Kelliher said. “We capitalized on them the way you’d like to.”
Cerasani’s score was a dagger in Old Rochester’s comeback hopes as the Bulldogs were unable to find the groove they had going in the first half. They went 46 yards on their next two drives with a turnover on downs and another fumble, recovered by Brian DeCarli.
Jason Halpin only touched the ball seven times, but made his presence felt. The senior took six carries for 134 yards and three touchdowns, including a 66-yard score. At linebacker, Halpin recovered a fumble.
“He really, truly did [have a big game],” Kelliher said.
Sophomore Shawn Donovan had nine carries for 71 yards and a touchdown, and senior Al Freeman added another score.
The Green Wave scored on six of their nine drives, helped by short fields to work with thanks to the defense.
Old Rochester senior Colin Knapton threw a 33-yard TD and caught a 25-yard TD pass from Bergeron to keep the Bulldogs alive in the first half.
The Green Wave defensive line won the battle in the trenches, often meeting the Bulldog running backs behind the line of scrimmage.