TAUNTON — Kneeling on the sideline, all Vincent Burton could do was watch the final play unfold, and his team come up short.
Burton’s 9-yard touchdown grab with three seconds left trimmed the Bristol-Plymouth lead to 2 points. Trailing, 28-26, Blue Hills needed the 2-point conversion.
Burton was ineligible to play during the conversion because he sustained an injury on the touchdown catch.
Blue Hills looked to Michael Kelly to send the game into overtime, but he was stuffed at the 1, ending Blue Hills two-year reign atop the Mayflower (Large) and propelling the Craftsmen to their first visit to the postseason since 2009.
“Believe it or not, we didn’t go into this game scared,” said Bristol-Plymouth coach John Parris. “We just said let the pressure be on them. We didn’t stop [Burton] today, but my goal today was just to slow him down.”
Burton, who rushed for a game-high 218 yards on 30 carrries, set the tone on Blue Hills’s first play from scrimmage, rumbling 68 yards to put the Warriors up, 6-0, just 12 seconds into the game.
Less than three minutes and six plays later following a turnover on downs, Blue Hills (9-2, 4-1) stretched its lead to to 14 points on a 33-yard strike from Steve Doroni to Jason Fernandes. Adam Mota’s 7-yard rushing touchdown with 2:21 left in the first quarter trimmed the deficit to 14-6 after one quarter.
Another Burton rushing score and touchdown runs from Colin McGrath and Mota sent the teams into halftime tied at 20.
Burton had 163 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries at the half. But once the third quarter got started, the game slowed down.
The Craftsmen (5-6, 4-1) denied Burton running lanes, allowing him just 16 yards on four carries.
With Burton’s inside game neutralized, Bristol-Plymouth forced Blue Hills to go outside. Six fumbles, four on outside pitches, was too much for Blue Hills to overcome.
“I told the kids mistakes and turnovers are going to determine a winner and a loser of this game, “ said Parris. “Even down, 20-6, I told my coaches I’m confident because we were slowing their offense down but they were not stopping ours.”
Junior quarterback Colin McGrath, who rushed for two touchdowns and was named offensive player of the game, was thankful to be on the winning end this time around.
“We set our goal last year right after Thanksgiving after [Blue Hills] killed us, and we knew we had to pick it up. All year we just had to go out and do our jobs, just like Bill Belichick says,” said McGrath. “Everyone did their job, that’s what we’re looking for.”
Bristol-Plymouth will play Madsion Park Tuesday in the playoffs.