FOXBOROUGH — For as much hype as the Bishop Fenwick offense had received coming into Saturday night’s Division 5 Super Bowl, the Crusader defense had been quietly dominating opponents all season.
Consider it no longer a secret.
Behind a stalwart defensive effort and three touchdowns from Rufus Rushins, Bishop Fenwick shut out Northbridge, 28-0, to win the Division 5 state championship at Gillette Stadium.
“The defense played phenomenal,” said Fenwick coach Dave Woods. “[Northbridge] is a good team, and to shut them out is huge.”
The Crusaders (13-0) came into the game allowing 13.6 points per game, but saved their best for last.
“Our defense, we’ve done that all year,” said senior quarterback and linebacker Nick Bona. “We’ve kind of been under the radar, I guess, on defense. Every game this year, we shut teams down and our offense can put up some points.”
The Crusaders’ front seven shut down the Rams’ running game, holding them to 11 rushing yards on 21 carries. Northbridge ran the ball 10 times for minus-10 yards in the first half, and couldn’t find much more room in the second half.
“The defensive line got after it,” Woods said. “And when [Northbridge QB Koby Schofer] did tuck it and run, our linebackers got after him real quick.”
The closest the Rams (9-3) came to scoring was at the start of the fourth quarter, when they marched to the 14-yard line, the farthest they got all game. But linebacker David Hurley picked off Schofer to keep the shutout intact.
“Everyone was flying to the ball,” Bona said. “There were 11 heads to the ball every play.”
The Fenwick defense made a statement from the opening drive, forcing Northbridge to punt after three plays went minus-8 yards.
Then Fenwick’s offense took advantage, as Bona rolled to his left on the first play, hurling a 39-yard touchdown pass to Eric Razney.
“It was huge,” Bona said. “I think it took a little wind out of [Northbridge]. It was a great way to start the game.”
Fenwick got on the board again midway through the second quarter, driving 62 yards on a possession dominated by the offensive line. Rushins and Bona traded carries to the 2, where Rushins plowed through a hole for a touchdown. Rushins ran in the 2-point conversion to make it a 14-0 halftime lead.
The Crusaders started the third quarter with a bang as the offensive line created holes to make way for a 49-yard touchdown run by Rushins.
“I saw green grass and I just booked it as fast as I could and held onto the ball tightly,” said the 6-foot-1-inch, 230-pound junior.
Sophomore center Justice Andrade led the powerful O-line, overcoming Northbridge’s size advantage.
“My god, this dude,” Rushins said, putting his arm around Andrade. “When I need 2 or 3 yards, I know he is going to push whoever’s in front of him out of the way so I can get it.”
Said Andrade, “[We knew] what needed to be done and we did it, nothing more. I knew this big guy [Rushins] needed to get down the field, so I just went head on.”
Rushins capped off the scoring with a 5-yard TD. He finished with 15 carries for 158 yards.
The victory wrapped up a memorable season for the Crusaders, who took home the third Super Bowl title in school history.
“I can’t even put it into words,” Woods said. “They are, without question, the greatest team this school has ever had. I’m just happy I’m along for the ride.”