WESTWOOD — As Xaverian made a push for the winning score from the 1-yard line, running back Hunter Taute was called for an illegal shift, putting his team on the 6-yard line and negating Maurice Hurst’s go-ahead touchdown.
But on the next play, the 6-foot-2-inch, 235-pound back made sure the game didn’t slip away from the Hawks as it had so many times this season.
On second and goal, Taute rumbled into the end zone with 1:22 to play as Xaverian defeated BC High, 21-17, at the Hawk Bowl Saturday afternoon.
“We called a timeout and talked it over, and I just knew I had to make the play,” Taute said.
After a win in Week 1, hard losses to St. Joseph’s Prep (N.J.), Brockton, Andover, Duxbury, Everett and Bridgewater-Raynham left the Hawks staring at a 1-6 record.
Last week, Charlie Stevenson’s crew barely escaped St. John’s (Shrewsbury) with a 33-31 win, with Kyle Darrows’s 31-yard field goal in the final minute saving Xaverian from surrendering a 30-10 lead.
But on Saturday, Xaverian looked more like the team that was pegged as a preseason favorite to challenge St. John’s Prep for the Catholic Conference title.
“I’m really happy,” Stevenson said. “We’ve been working hard to get ourselves to a better level, and right now we’re playing our best football.”
After a 33-yard field goal from Jackson Bockhurst, Xaverian trailed BC High, 17-14.
With 8:07 to play, Xaverian used a 16-play, 81-yard drive — capped by Taute’s score — to steal the victory.
On fourth and 10, the drive nearly ended when quarterback Austin DeCarr’s pass was tipped, but Joe DeNucci made a diving catch at the BC High 20-yard line for a 12-yard gain, keeping the drive alive.
On second and goal, from the 6, DeCarr’s pass into the end zone fell incomplete, but BC High was called for defensive holding, giving Xaverian (3-6, 2-0) a fresh set of downs from the 3-yard line that led to Taute’s score.
BC High quarterback Dan Collins was 0-5 on the Eagles’ last possession, and Xaverian took over on downs and ran out the clock.
“We went with our faster backs [Shayne Kaminski and Mike Brennan] and they popped the holes pretty good and made some great plays down the stretch,” Stevenson said. “Then Taute really put the ball in pretty hard.”
Xaverian trailed, 14-7, at the half, but receiver DJ Pagliuca opened the third quarter with an 88-yard kick return to tie the game.
“I saw a hole, just went to it and made one move and I was gone,” Pagliuca said. “I had good blocking, and I got to the end zone and it was a huge momentum shift.”
BC’s Dan Collins intercepted DeCarr and returned it for a 19-yard score in the first quarter, but on the first play of the second quarter, Hurst’s 1-yard score tied the game, 7-7.
Collins rushed for an 11-yard touchdown with 18 seconds left in the first half to give the Eagles the lead, but BC High’s offense was held to just 39 yards after that.
“Defensively, we played great today,” Stevenson said. “We really had to shut down their running game and I think we did a real good job.”