TEWKSBURY — With the score tied and 3:04 remaining in Saturday’s Division 3 Northeast final, No. 15 Marblehead had the ball at its 14-yard line.
Senior quarterback Matt Millett went to the short passing game, throwing back-to-back times toward the Magicians’ sideline in front of the Tewksbury defense.
It seemed like a safe way for Marblehead to try to move the ball down the field.
That was until Millett threw to the same spot a third straight time.
Tewksbury junior Tom Casey jumped the underneath route, intercepted the pass, and ran it back 21 yards for the go-ahead score as the No. 7 Redmen topped Marblehead, 34-21, at Doucette Field.
Tewksbury (10-0) hopes to keep its perfect season alive in Saturday’s Division 3 state semifinals against Northwest winner Melrose, where Casey lived until he was 6.
“I just did what my coaches tell me,” Casey said of the interception. “Sat in the flat, the quarterback couldn’t see me over the big linemen. He didn’t see it coming.”
Tewksbury coach Brian Aylward said Casey was initially in that position to help contain Marblehead junior running back Brooks Tyrrell. But as the game progressed, Aylward kept Casey in that zone drop to try to cut down the short throws.
“I would give it more to just [Casey] being a savvy football player more than anything else,” Aylward said.
After top-seeded Tewksbury missed the PAT following Casey’s INT return, second-seeded Marblehead (8-2) still had a chance, trailing by 6 with the ball at its 41 and 2:43 left.
But Redmen senior Eddie Matovu caught Millett from behind as he tried to throw, knocking the ball loose, and junior Ethan Eloi pounced on it for Tewksbury. Three plays later, junior James Sullivan raced in from 21 yards to seal it. Sullivan ran 20 times for 149 yards and two touchdowns.
It was 21-21 at halftime and stayed that way until Casey’s touchdown.
Sullivan gave the Redmen a 14-7 lead with 10:55 left in the second when he took a toss left and powered over a Marblehead defender at the goal line. The lead lasted only 15 seconds as sophomore Mark Cohen returned the ensuing kickoff 95 yards to knot the score at 14.
After Tewksbury dropped a sure TD on fourth and goal, the Magicians started their drive at their 7 with 6:52 left in the half. That’s when Tyrrell took over, breaking off a 55-yarder to set up Marblehead in the red zone.
Matt Millett then hit his brother, Will Millett, for a 14-yard touchdown and 21-14 lead with 4:43 remaining.
The Redmen tied it on a 30-yard pass from Johnny Aylward to Kevin Dick with a minute to go in the half.