MARSHFIELD — Coming into a Thanksgiving showdown against Marshfield with the Patriot League Keenan Division title on the line, Super Bowl-bound Duxbury never considered resting its starters.
The Dragons did, however, show their versatility by strategically and cleverly altering their game plan. Duxbury’s balance paid dividends in a convincing 26-7 triumph over the Rams.
Junior workhorse Alex Barlow racked up 145 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries and senior running back Andrew Hunt added 71 yards, helping Duxbury (11-0, 5-0) clinch its 14th straight league title.
“Usually we’re a more fast-paced offense, but we tried to shorten the game a little bit and use all 40 seconds,” Duxbury coach Matt Landolfi said. “We thought we could do that, grind the ball, which, luckily, we were able to.”
Barlow started the scoring with a 6-yard scamper to give Duxbury a 6-0 edge two minutes into the game. Senior quarterback Matt Festa (12 for 21, 177 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs) hit Adam Barr for a 25-yard TD midway through the second quarter, as Barr tightroped the sideline and accelerated into the end zone.
Anthony Molander found Jack Marini for a 9-yard strike late in the second, helping Marshfield (7-4, 4-1) trim the deficit to a manageable 13-7 at halftime.
The Dragons, as they did against Middleborough and Holliston in playoff action, turned it on in the second half to squelch any hopes of a comeback. Festa aired one out to Parker Villarin for a 22-yard strike, then Nathan Elliott added 25- and 29-yard field goals in the fourth quarter.
Brendan Bonner, who had two interceptions for the second consecutive week, said the Dragons try not to think about the streak, but they all understand what’s at stake.
“We go into it like it’s a normal game,” Bonner said. “Obviously we all know in the back of our minds what we’re playing for, but it’s fun pressure to go out there and keep the streak alive.”
Next up for the Dragons is a clash with Grafton at Gillette Stadium Dec. 2 for the Division 4 title.
For Marshfield, it was a tough ending to an up-and-down season. Coach Chris Arouca credited his seniors for staying poised.
“It would have been easy after we started out 0-2 for them to just pack it in,” Arouca said. “They came and kept playing and kept working. It’s a testament to them.”
Trevor Hass can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.