BRAINTREE – With snow and rain in the forecast, Natick coach Mark Mortarelli said he was extremely worried about how the weather would play a factor in Tuesday night’s Division 2A semifinal.
The weather, it seemed, didn’t shake Natick as it secured a trip to the Division 2A Super Bowl with a 38-33 win over Plymouth South.
Troy Flutie threw for four touchdowns and rushed for another for the Redhawks (11-1).
“Feels amazing,” said Natick receiver Brian Dunlap, who caught three of Flutie’s scores. “Troy did a great job throwing the ball, it was just like a regular day. We just stuck to our game plan — the defense started off strong. We couldn’t do it without their senior leadership.”
Natick had a 28-14 lead at the half, but Panthers running back Dylan Oxsen continued to chip away and refused to let his team go without a fight. Oxsen scored three touchdowns in the second half, but it wasn’t enough to overpower the Redhawks’ attack.
After Oxsen’s last TD, a 3-yard burst with 59 seconds left in the fourth, Plymouth South (8-4) attempted an onside kick but Natick’s Michael Abbruzzese jumped on the ball at the 40-yard line to seal the deal.
The Redhawks’ offense punted on their first drive of the game, but the defense came up with a forced fumble to put them in great field position. Just two plays later Flutie was stretching the ball over the end zone for the first touchdown of the night.
On the ensuing Natick drive, Flutie connected with Dunlap for 16-yard touchdown. On that drive Redhawks running back Nick Lee re-injured his ankle and was taken out of the game. Lee was later carted off the field and will most likely not be playing this Saturday in the Super Bowl.
Lee missed Natick’s only loss of the season (at Wellesley) with the injured ankle.
“I feel awful for him,” Mortarelli said. “He works so hard and deserves to be out here. We still have one more game and he’s still our inspirational leader so we’ll play for him.”
After a solid kick return for Plymouth South in the second quarter, it took only a play for Oxsen to find the end zone, using his speed to break tackles and head 59 yards down the left side of the field.
In true Natick fashion, the Redhawks returned the favor as Flutie threw a 73-yarder to Dunlap for their second scoring connection of the night. The duo hooked up once more on a 5-yard touchdown in the beginning of the fourth quarter.
“Troy was just so accurate and he did it with his feet when he had to,” Mortarelli explained. “He’s been like that all year, so we’re spoiled right now with him, but he was great.”
Natick continues this Saturday when it battles undefeated Beverly for the Division 2A championship at Gillette Stadium.