STONEHAM — It wasn’t the ending Reading’s James Murphy and Colby Goodchild envisioned with 1:31 to play. Instead of taking possession and running out the clock, Murphy remained on the sideline and Goodchild was part of a Reading defense holding on for dear life.
Down 2 points, Stoneham recovered an onside kick and with the clock winding down, moved from the 50 to the Reading 23-yard line. On the game’s final play, in the slop and mud, Stoneham’s Joshua Nardone tried a 40-yard field goal. It went wide and Reading survived on Thanksgiving, 36-34.
“I was nervous,” said Goodchild after the onside kick. “But I had faith in our defense. We knew what we had to do and we showed up at the right time.”
The Rockets lead the series, 64-18-4.
Goodchild (162 yards rushing, two touchdowns) was part of a Reading offense that Stoneham (9-2) couldn’t stop. The Rockets (10-1) punted just once, and that wasn’t until the fourth quarter.
If it wasn’t Goodchild’s running, it was the passing of Murphy. The junior quarterback completed 15 of 20 passes for 165 yards and three touchdowns, all going to Jesse Doherty.
With 55 seconds to play in the third quarter Reading was ahead, 29-13, on the last of Murphy’s touchdown passes to Doherty. But on their next play, Stoneham quarterback Jason Nutting hit Patrick McNamara for a 68-yard touchdown pass and after the conversion run the Spartans’ deficit was cut to 29-21. For McNamara, it was his second long score after running 75 yards on the game’s opening play for a touchdown.
Reading then had to punt and Stoneham went 78 yards on seven plays, the last a 28-yard touchdown pass from Nutting to David Skutul. The conversion failed but Reading’s lead was 29-27 with seven minutes left.
It was all Goodchild on Reading’s next possession as the senior had carries of 11, 4, 7, 11, and capped it off with a 26-yard scoring run, his 19th of the season. Jake Palm’s kick made it 36-27 with 3:55 remaining.
It was far from over.
On its next possession, Stoneham went 65 yards on 11 plays, the last a trick play that had McNamara taking a lateral and hitting Colin Farren for a 27-yard score. Nardone drilled the extra point and it was 36-34 with 1:31 to go.
All Reading had to do was collect the onside kick and send Murphy onto the field to take a knee. That didn’t happen, but the victory did.
“When the defense went out there,” Murphy said. “I knew they could get the job done.”