BRAINTREE — Trailing by 12 points with under five minutes to go in the Large Division State Vocational Bowl, Blackstone Valley Tech stalled on offense and turned the ball over on downs at the Northeast 7-yard line.
While it looked as though the Beavers had taken their last breath, they were really just getting started.
Led by senior quarterback Nic Wojnar and Bailey Leacy’s onside kick, Blackstone Valley stormed back with 16 points in the final minutes to beat the Knights, 30-26, Thursday night.
“I love this feeling,” said Wojnar, who played linebacker on the Beavers’ Division 6 Super Bowl team last year. “It’s awesome.”
Wojnar ran in a 7-yard touchdown and threw a 44-yard TD pass in the final three minutes to lead his team to victory, finishing the night 22-of-33 passing for 279 yards and three touchdowns.
“Every gun has a trigger — he’s ours,” said Blackstone Valley coach Jim Archibald, who added Wojnar was battling a groin injury throughout the game. “He really willed us to victory there in the end.”
After Northeast took over at its 7-yard line, leading, 26-14, with 4:44 to play, Jake Tancrade sacked quarterback Troy Tartarini at the half-yard line, putting the Knights in tough field position.
On fourth and 15 from the 2-yard line, Northeast coach Don Heres elected to have Tartarini run out of the back of the end zone for a safety with 4:11 left.
“I understand, if you’re playing it by the book, that’s how you do it,” Archibald said. “You don’t want to risk a blocked punt and you don’t want to risk a snap out of bounds or anything like that.”
The safety gave Beavers the ball back at the Knights’ 38-yard line, down by 10, and Wojnar went to work.
Eight plays later, Wojnar faked a pass and ran in a 7-yard touchdown to make it a 3-point game.
With no timeouts left and 2:42 on the clock, Archibald called for the onside kick. Blackstone Valley hadn’t been able to recover one all season, not even in practice, but got its first when it counted.
Leacy got just enough foot on the ball for it to go 10 yards with a favorable bounce, and junior Devin Kempster recovered it at the Northeast 49.
Wojnar threw a 5-yard pass to Leacy, who got out of bounds to stop the clock at 2:17.
On the next play, the Beavers executed a perfect slip screen, as Wojnar dumped off a pass to running back Ben Reiffarth. With linemen blocking in front of him, Reiffarth took off down the sideline 44 yards for the winning touchdown.
“Down 12, we never really quit, but we all [thought] ‘This is going to be a long shot. We gotta have a lot go in our favor,’ ” Wojnar said. “Then once we were down by 3, then it just really clicked. Once we have the confidence on our side, we just go.”
Seniors Christian Perez and Nick Giangregorio led Northeast with two touchdowns each.