EVERETT — It was only his first varsity start, but Xaverian junior quarterback Jake Farrell played with great poise against perennial powerhouse and top-ranked Everett on Friday night, keeping his team focused as the Hawks spent the second half chasing a 1-point deficit.
Xaverian had its chance in the third quarter with a field goal attempt, but the snap was fumbled.
Things changed in the fourth quarter. On fourth and 11, Farrell optioned out of a pass play and broke loose for a 25-yard score that put the Hawks ahead. On Xaverian’s next possession, Farrell fired a 23-yard touchdown strike to DJ Sperzel, carrying No. 12 Xaverian to a 20-8 upset at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
“It was a little nerve-racking before the game,” Farrell said. “I didn’t know what to think of it. I knew it was a big game. But my teammates were really supportive. They knew I was shaky at the beginning.
“We were outplaying them to every degree. We knew we were going to come out stronger than them [in the second half] and we got it done.”
Xaverian’s comeback began early in the fourth quarter. Everett, leading 8-7, elected to punt on fourth and 7 at the Xaverian 33. The punt traveled just 4 yards and the Hawks (1-0) took over at their 29.
Junior running back Noah Sorrento ripped off a 47-yard run to get the Hawks to Everett’s 24. A pair of incompletions and a 1-yard loss on a run set up fourth and 11, but Farrell delivered the go-ahead score.
On the ensuing possession, Everett (1-1), facing fourth and 2, called a running play for Lukas Denis, who was stopped short of the first down and Xaverian took over at the 23.
Farrell (10 for 16, 83 yards) needed only one play to find Sperzel in the back of the end zone, threading a tight pass over the outstretched arms of Raheem Wingard.
Sperzel also intercepted Wingard on fourth and 4, killing an Everett drive at the Xaverian 30-yard line with five minutes to play.
On the opening kickoff, Everett senior Joe D’Onofrio muffed the return, and a pair of false starts left Everett pinned at its 2-yard line. The Tide had to punt from the back of their end zone, and Xaverian started its first drive at the Everett 29. The Hawks cashed in on the good field position with Sorrento (14 carries, 88 yards) running it in from 13 yards.
Everett struggled early, logging 28 yards on four possessions. But Wingard got his team back into it with a 30-yard TD run, and Marquis Holman ran in the 2-point conversion.
Xaverian entered its first game with a new quarterback, new wide receivers, and a new offensive line. But the Hawks stepped up, leaving coach Charlie Stevenson satisfied entering next week’s matchup against No. 5 Bridgewater-Raynham.
“We’re a little young, a little inexperienced and we struggled a little bit in the preseason,” Stevenson. “But they put it all together and we really had a great performance tonight. We made big plays when we needed to.”