WALPOLE — Troy Flutie accounted for eight touchdowns to power No. 2 Natick to the Bay State Herget title as the Redhawks escaped with a 56-55 overtime victory at No. 20 Walpole Friday night in a thrilling, back-and-forth affair.
Walpole sophomore Steve Cuqua was brilliant in defeat, scoring six TDs and rushing for 307 yards on 43 carries.
Flutie gave Natick (7-0, 5-0) the lead on the first play of overtime, darting in from 10 yards, and Ben Nottonson added the extra point to make it a 7-point game.
Cuqua scored to cut the deficit to 1, but Walpole elected to go for 2 and the win.
Cuqua’s run up the middle was swallowed up by Natick’s interior defense and stopped for a loss as the Redhawks sideline and fans raced onto the field.
Flutie finished 18 for 31 for 370 yards, five touchdowns, and two interceptions, and had 10 carries for 191 yards and three touchdowns.
“Just hanging in there. That’s what we’re about,” Flutie said of the team’s resiliency. “Our defense stuck in there.
“They had a rough day but they’ll bounce back and they were playing great at the end.”
Trailing by 7 with 2:37 left in regulation, Natick faced a fourth and 22 from midfield.
Flutie stood in the pocket and hit senior Scott Warnock across the middle. Warnock headed for the sideline and picked up 30 yards to keep the drive alive.
Flutie said that was the play of the game. Flutie tied it on the next play when he found senior Mike Abbruzzese on a seam pass for a 20-yard score.
“[Flutie] just picked up our defense time and time again,” Natick coach Mark Mortarelli said. “You can’t say enough about him.”
With the game tied, 42-42, Walpole (4-3, 3-2) forced a turnover on downs and took over on its own 27.
On the first play, Cuqua took a toss left and raced down the sidelines for a 73-yard touchdown to put the home team back on top, 49-42, with 4:06 to go.
Natick trailed, 21-7, with 5:06 left in the second quarter until Flutie darted down the left sideline for a 73-yard touchdown on a quarterback keeper.
The Redhawks got the ball back with 53 seconds left near midfield. Flutie cashed in two plays later when he hit a wide-open Andrew Boynton, who sneaked behind the defense, for a 47-yard strike to knot it at 21.
The Rebels jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter thanks to two touchdown runs by Cuqua.
Walpole marched 80 yards on eight plays (seven runs, one pass) on its opening drive, and Cuqua gave the Rebels a 7-0 lead on a 2-yard run.