SUDBURY — In a 2017 season chock full of impressive defensive performances for the Lincoln-Sudbury football team, coach Tom Lopez did not hesitate to call Friday night’s effort at Myers Field the best.
North Andover quarterback Jake McElroy made plenty of noise evading the Warriors’ front seven, but the Scarlet Knights twice turned the ball over on downs in the red zone and L-S churned out a late monster drive to cap a 27-7 win and capture its first Division 2 North title.
With the win, L-S (10-0) moves on to face defending state champ King Philip in the the Division 2 state final at Gillette Stadium the first weekend in December.
“We’ve had good defensive games against teams that were not nearly as strong as North Andover,” Lopez said. “And so I think being able play this well against a really good opponent is hopefully going to help us in three weeks.”
With L-S on top, 14-7, at the start of the fourth quarter, Pete Rizzotti batted down a fourth-down pass to give the Warriors the bal at their own 21.
The Warriors marched 79 yards in 15 plays and eight minutes, scoring on a 3-yard run by James Dillon, to take a 21-7 lead.
Four straight North Andover incompletions deep in its own territory gave the Warriors the ball again just 23 yards from the end zone. They tacked on one more score on a Braden O’Connell keeper for a three-score advantage with 1:12 to go.
The game was called after the ensuing kickoff. North Andover star Gabe De Souza, just a few collapsed without contact a few steps after cleanly fielding the kick. He was treated on the field and then taken to Boston Children’s Hospital for evaluation. His older brother, Gilly, later reported from the hospital that Gabe was OK.
After Kyle Smith batted down a would-be touchdown pass on fourth down to open the second quarter, L-S marched quickly downfield for the game’s first score. Braden O’Connell called his own number up the right sideline, juking and shaking his way to a 48-yard scamper. That was followed immediately by a 15-yard touchdown run by Andrew Marshall, in which the fullback bulldozed his way to the right pylon for a 7-0 advantage with seven minutes to go in the half.
North Andover responded just 38 seconds later with two beautiful passes from Jake McElroy. First, the quarterback found J.D. Allen deep down the left seam off of jet sweep play action. That was followed up with a 26-yard scoring strike to Darren Watson on a slant over the deep middle to even it at 7-7.
The Warriors got in one more good punch before the half with James Dillon capping a 12-play, 66-yard drive that took five and a half minutes with a four-yard toss sweep on fourth and 1, to go up 14-7.