TEWKSBURY— Tewksbury junior James Sullivan knew how physical Gloucester was going to be heading into Saturday’s Division 3 Northeast semifinal playoff game.
But after this one, Sullivan and the rest of the Redmen are going to need some extra ice to recover.
Sullivan scored four touchdowns and ran for 109 yards, and No. 7 Tewksbury withstood the Fishermen’s bruising Wing T offense to squeeze out a 28-25 win at Doucette Field.
“They’re always tough,” Sullivan said. “It’s fun to play against them, but when you get home, it’s not that fun anymore.”
The Top-seeded Tewksbury Redmen will play second-seeded Marblehead next weekend in the Northeast final.
Trailing by 3, the Fishermen (6-3) had the ball at their 39-yard line with 2:37 left in the fourth quarter, but the Tewksbury defense swallowed up a bootleg attempt on fourth and 5 to seal the victory.
Tewksbury The Redmen (9-0) trailed at the half, 10-7, but Gloucester botched a punt attempt and Tewksbury recovered at the Gloucester 6. Sullivan raced in on the next play to put Tewksbury ahead, 14-10.
The Fishermen struck right back. On the ensuing kickoff, junior Mike Decaro broke to the sideline for a 91-yard touchdown to give Gloucester the lead, 17-14, with 8:30 to go in the third.
With the momentum on the visiting side, Tewksbury showcased its offensive weapons on its next drive to regain the lead for good.
Junior James Hirtle got the drive going with a 28-yard sweep, followed by an 18-yard run up the gut by senior Eddie Matovu (seven carries, 52 yards).
Two plays later, senior Johnny Aylward faked a sweep to Hirtle and hit Sullivan on a fade down the left sideline for a 21-yard score to put the Redmen up, 21-17. Sullivan scored on a 3-yard run to make it 28-17.
“You got a lot of guys that put in the work and have been blessed with some ability and are hungry to contribute with the ball,” Tewksbury coach Brian Aylward said. “You kind of play to whatever the hot hand is and whoever’s running hard and getting north.’’
With 4:15 remaining, Gloucester senior John Curcuru scored from 47 yards and ran in the 2-point conversion to cut the deficit to 28-25.
Sullivan kicked off the scoring when he took a toss right and scampered 70 yards on the opening drive.
Gloucester came right back to tie the score with 7:34 left in the first quarter on a 15-yard run by Jordan Pallazola.