Senior captain Jack Finnegan scored a go-ahead 4-yard touchdown run with 6:51 remaining and ran for a game-clinching first down with 1:28 left to seal Milton’s first ever trip to Gillette Stadium for the Division 3 Super Bowl in a 32-30 win over Hanover in the D3 semifinal Friday night at Weymouth High.
Milton senior quarterback Owen McHugh threw three touchdown passes, twice connecting with Michael Fulton on first-half scoring tosses of 19 and 29 yards to give the top-seeded Wildcats (10-0) a 20-8 halftime lead. Hanover quarterback Ben Scazli, not to be outdone, threw a pair of touchdowns, including a 32-yard scoring toss to John McDonald that capped a 22-point second-half eruption that enabled the No. 4 Hawks (8-3) to take a 30-26 lead.
Finnegan, who ran for touchdowns of 1 and 4 yards and tacked on a pair of PATs to go along with an interception, answered for the Wildcats, as did junior linebacker Ben Caledonia who came up with a clutch interception at Milton’s 30 that helped seal the verdict with 3:01 remaining. Milton will face Wakefield (11-0), a 31-24 winner over North Attleborough.
Milton quickly rushed up the field on the opening drive of the game, culminating with McHugh connecting on a 19-yard touchdown pass with senior Michael Fulton. Finnegan’s PAT sailed wide left, giving Milton a 6-0 lead with 9:29 to go in the first quarter.
Hanover got to the Milton 9-yard line on its first drive, but three incomplete passes by Ben Scalzi and a partially-blocked field goal by Milton’s Liam Faherty kept the Hawks off the board. On the ensuing drive, Milton marched to the Hanover 37, but the Wildcats stalled when a couple of timely knockdowns prevented them from capitalizing on the scoring opportunity.
It opened the door Hanover to respond when Scalzi connected with senior Nick Freel on a 33-yard pass, setting the stage for Scalzi’s 20-yard touchdown pass to Joe Curran. Mehki Bryan connected with David Quinlan on a successful pass attempt to convert the two-point conversion for an 8-0 lead.
With 7:47 left in the second quarter, Milton sophomore Harrison Hinkle blocked a Hanover punt, with the Wildcats recovering at the Hanover 8-yard line. Two plays later, senior captain Jack Finnegan punched it in for a 1-yard TD and tacked on the PAT to give Milton a 13-8 lead.
After Milton’s defense held firm when Hanover gambled and failed on a fourth-and-four conversion attempt from its 40, McHugh made the Hawks pay when he found Fulton on a 29-yard TD strike. Finnegan’s PAT stretched Milton’s lead to 20-8 with 2:33 left before halftime.
Wakefield 31, North Attleborough 24 — No. 6 Wakefield relied on it’s three-headed monster of quarterback Javin Willis, running back Nathan Delgado and tight end Ian Dixon early and often Friday night in a thrilling 31-24 victory over No. 2 North Attleborough in a Division 3 semifinal matchup.
Wakefield will play No. 1 Milton in the state championship game at Gillette Stadium the first weekend in December.
On Wakefield’s first offensive possession, the Warriors drove 59 yards for a touchdown.
After using a run-heavy attack last week versus Plymouth South, Wakefield (11-0) came out passing on their first series. Willis (18-23, 214 yards, 3 touchdowns) completed passes to three different receivers on the drive, including the touchdown pass on a fade pattern to Dixon from 6 yards out to take a 7-3 lead.
“Any time I line out wide like that, I just want the ball and I know (Willis) is gonna get it to me” said Dixon.
After a Wakefield field goal, North Attleborough (7-3) answered quickly. Senior running back Nathan Shultz had 63 yards on the drive, including a 40 yard touchdown to tie the game at 10.
Wakefield executed a near-perfect 70 yard scoring drive just before halftime to retake the lead, capped off with the second Willis to Dixon connection.
After the intermission, North Attleborough made adjustments to stop the Wakefield passing attack. The Warriors countered and relied heavily on Delgado and the running game. Delgado’s 11 yard touchdown put the Warriors ahead 24-10.
The Red Rocketeers cut the lead in half on a Greg Berthiaume touchdown on a drive that covered 73 yards and took nearly seven minutes off the clock.
In the fourth quarter, seeking some insurance points, Wakefield kept it simple and relied on the trio of Willis, Delgado and Dixon.
Delgado (130 scrimmage yards) did the heavy lifting getting the Warriors inside the North Attleborough 10 yard line.
Inside the 10, Wakefield went to a familiar play call with another fade route. Willis hit Dixon (5 receptions, 55 yards, 3 touchdowns) who managed to keep the ball above the defender’s head and get his feet down in bounds for a touchdown to extend the lead back to 14.
Globe correspondents Lenny Rowe reported from Weymouth, Tyler Amaral from Milford.