In the final game of their high school careers, Lynn Tech seniors Steffan Gravely and Keoni Gaskin refused to let their team lose.
The senior tandem combined for 308 rushing yards and seven touchdowns — including 178 rushing yards and four TDs over the first quarter and a half for a commanding 30-0 lead _ in Thursday night’s 50-22 victory over Nashoba Valley Tech in the Vocational Small Super Bowl in Westford.
When the host Vikings rallied to within 30-22 in the third quarter, Gaskin came up with an immense 75-yard interception return for a touchdown and Gravely did the rest, rushing for touchdowns of 5 and 8 yards, as the Tigers won going away.
“Our coach always tells us that big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games and that’s what we go by,” said Gaskin. “We had one goal the whole season since August 17th and we just got it done.”
This is the third title for Lynn Tech (11-2) since the MIAA created Vocational state title games in 2004.
After falling into a huge hole, Nashoba Tech (8-5) mounted a furious comeback.
Vikings quarterback Vinny Eramo finished three scoring drives with touchdown runs of 14, 8, and 34 yards and Nashoba Tech recovered an onsides kick down 30-22 early in the third quarter.
Facing fourth-and-goal at the Lynn Tech 1, Eramo surged forward in an attempt to score his fourth touchdown of the game, but was stripped by Lynn Tech junior linebacker Emerson Ramirez in a momentous play.
“Emerson Ramirez made a great play,” said Lynn Tech coach James Runner. “It was a testament to Nashoba Valley that they were able to come back and their quarterback was playing great, so we knew it was going to come, we just didn’t know how to stop it.”
“They say offense wins games, but defense wins championships.”
The 5-foot-10-inch Gravely (23 carries, 213 yards, 4 TDs) was simply dynamic every time he got his hands on the ball. He finished the season with more than 2,000 yards from scrimmage and ranked in the top five in the state in total yards.
“We knew they were going to key in on Steffan [Gravely] so we had to use Keoni [Gaskin] to counter that,” said Runner. “We had to keep our foot on the gas in the second half and keep changing who had the ball.”
Working as a perfect one-two punch, Gravely and Gaskin (8 carries, 95 yards, 3 total TDs) churned out yardage to keep the clock running. Fittingly, Gravely picked off Eramo in the end zone with a little more than a minute to play to seal the win.
Assabet 28, Shawsheen 20 — Three feet stood between Justin Phillips and a championship with less than two minutes to play in the State Vocational Bowl.
The Assabet quarterback took the snap, leaped for dear life, and delivered the Aztecs (9-4) a title victory over Shawsheen Tech (8-5) at Cassidy Field in Billerica.
“I just put my head down, reached over for the goal line, and made sure I got in the end zone,” said Phillips. “I knew that if we scored, it’d be a game changer.”
It proved to be that and more as Phillips finished with 14 carries for 71 yards, five pass completions for 44 yards and a 77- yard kickoff return at the start of the game. Alongside running back Mike Diplacido, who made it 14-0 with his 9-yard TD run, Phillips led the Aztecs to an early first-quarter lead that grew to 20-8 on Phillips’ 1-yard TD toss to Ryan Taylor.
Quarterback Cody Sughrue rallied Shawsheen Tech for 12 unanswered points to tie it, 20-20, in the final six minutes of the first half. Sughrue connected with Josiah Martinez on a 38-yard pass (2-point conversion failed) and Ryan Quinones on a 25-yard TD toss (PAT failed) as the Rams pulled even at halftime.
“[Assabet] got off to a great start, but we felt like we withstood their barrage,” said Shawsheen Tech head coach Al Costabile.
After a scoreless third quarter, Assabet kicked its offense into high gear midway through the fourth, mounting a game-winning, 13-play, 60-yard drive capped by Phillips’ 1-yard TD plunge.
“We just felt [Phillips] was our best option to carry the load,” said Assabet head coach Ken Stukonis about his quarterback. “As a senior he stepped up and made it happen.”Correspondents Nate Weitzer reported from Westford, Mike Kotsopoulos from Billerica.