WALPOLE — Even with a lead in hand, St. Mary’s coach Sean Driscoll felt his team needed one more signature play down the stretch.
After a fourth-down pass interference penalty gave the defending Division 6 state champion and second-seeded Rockland new hope on its final drive, Driscoll’s third-seeded St. Mary’s defense came up with an interception that helped the Spartans run out the clock and earn a 15-14 victory in a wild Division 6 semifinal at Walpole.
“They were pushing us and pushing us. We knew we had to get at least one more stop,” Driscoll said. “That’s the sign of a good team, when they step up on defense when they’re getting pushed a little bit. That’s a good program and they’ve got some good kids up front. I’m proud of my kids for hanging in there and hanging tough.”
St. Mary’s will face the winner of Saturday’s Stoneham-Cardinal Spellman semifinal in the Division 6 Super Bowl next weekend. It’s the first trip to Gillette Stadium for the Spartans (10-1) since suffering an 18-0 loss to Blackstone Valley Tech in the 2018 Division 7 Super Bowl.
Before that, however, St. Mary’s will meet Austin Prep at Fenway Park on Wednesday. Rockland (7-3) closes out its season at East Bridgewater on Thanksgiving.
Facing fourth and 12 at the St. Mary’s 31, Rockland was granted a new set of downs following a controversial pass interference at the Spartans’ goal line. Three plays later, on third and 10 at the St. Mary’s 15, the Spartans pressured Bulldogs backup quarterback Jordan DePina into throwing an interception to junior Joel Maggs with 1:13 remaining.
St. Mary’s ran the ball three straight times to bring the clock down to seven seconds. On fourth down, senior David Brown lined up to punt but instead ran out of the back of the end zone to take a safety—and cut the Spartans’ deficit to 15-14— with two seconds remaining.
Senior Michael Anderson kicked a squib kick on the ensuing kickoff and Rockland’s lateral attempts came up short once St. Mary’s senior Derick Coulanges picked off a backwards pass to seal the victory.
“I’ve got to give it to my D-line and my linebackers,” Maggs said of the interception. “They came off hard, got off the line, and put pressure on their quarterback. It was their backup in and I knew he was going to make a mistake. When he threw the ball, I saw it in the air and knew I had to go make a play.”
St. Mary’s took a 15-6 lead with 7:29 left in the third after a 58-yard touchdown catch by Nick Sacco from quarterback Tyler Guy and Coulanges ran for a 2-point conversion. Coulanges opened the scoring with a 4-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
Jacob Coulstring scored touchdown runs of 10 and 1 yards for the Bulldogs.