NATICK — The Redhawks are used to Troy Flutie making impact plays on offense, but on Friday night he made some crucial defensive plays late in the fourth quarter to secure a 21-14 win for Natick over Walpole.
Leading by 7 points with four minutes left in the game, Flutie was intercepted by Walpole’s Billy Rockwood. Four plays later, Flutie was on the other end, intercepting Rebels quarterback Will Bolster.
Trying to keep the chains moving, Natick went to the air and Flutie was again picked off, this time by Brad Webber. With a little over a minute left for Walpole, it was looking for a big play but Flutie broke up a pass on third down. On fourth down, Bolster’s pass was incomplete, ending the game.
“In a game like this you have to use every weapon we have and obviously Troy and Brian [Dunlap] are incredible athletes, so we put them out there in the secondary and they didn’t disappoint,” said Natick coach Mark Mortarelli.
Early on it looked promising for the Rebels, who received the opening kickoff and drove down the field for a touchdown. Bolster connected with running back Mike Rando on a 10-yard screen pass for the score and a 7-0 lead.
Natick moved the ball efficiently on its first possession but an incomplete pass on fourth down gave the ball back to the Rebels on their 31-yard line. The Redhawks’ tough defense forced a three and out and a bad snap on the punt attempt for Walpole gave Natick the perfect opportunity to get on the board.
A play later, Flutie connected with Dunlap for a 25-yard touchdown pass at the end of the first quarter. The duo connected again on a 40-yard score in the second quarter to give Natick a 14-7 lead.
The Redhawks opened the third quarter with a six-play, 70-yard drive that ended in a 2-yard run by Flutie to give Natick a 21-7 edge.
“That first drive in the second half was the game,” Mortarelli said. “That’s why we won. Great to see our offense do that.”
Walpole responded with a 12-play drive, capped by a 26-yard touchdown pass from Bolster to Webber.
The victory keeps Natick’s playoff hopes alive. If the Redhawks beat Framingham on Thanksgiving, they win the Bay State title and will advance to the playoffs. Natick could also advance with a Walpole loss to Weymouth on Thanksgiving.
“Obviously you can’t predict a win or a loss, but I knew we’d be ready to play and they didn’t disappoint at all,” said Mortarelli. “Every single guy on the roster did something to help us win this game.”