STONEHAM — After 40 minutes of bitter-cold football on Thursday, the outcome came down to a mad sprint to the pylon between Stoneham’s Christos Argyropoulos and the Reading defense, led by Jake D’Agostino.
Argyropoulos already had scored twice but this time he just needed a simple conversion run to keep the Spartans’ hopes alive in overtime. But D’Agostino and a host of teammates did what no one has been able to do this season — they stopped Stoneham. Thanks to a stunning fourth-quarter comeback, and that must-have conversion stop, Reading beat Stoneham, 28-26, in overtime.
The loss was the first of the season for Stoneham (11-1), while Reading ended a two-year Thanksgiving losing streak to finish 8-3.
“We’re really proud of our seniors, really proud of our program today, and really happy to go into the offseason with a win,” Reading coach John Fiore said.
With less than five minutes to play it looked as if Stoneham would head into its Dec. 1 Super Bowl game undefeated. After a touchdown from Seth Russell, and two from Argyropoulos, the last with 4:04 to play in the fourth quarter, Stoneham was ahead, 20-6.
That’s when Reading senior quarterback Matt Sannella took over. With the wind at his back, all the struggles of the previous three quarters vanished. In the fourth quarter, Sannella was 8-for-11 passing for 125 yards and two touchdowns.
Starting at the Reading 43, the comeback began with Sannella hitting Domenic Masucci for 39 yards, Colin DuRoss for 9, and then Jovan Nortelus for an 8-yard touchdown. Sannella ran for the conversion to make it 20-14 with 3:27 left. Stoneham went three and out and Sannella went back to work from the Reading 21. He ran for 8 yards, and completed passes of 8, 18, and 16 yards, setting up a third and 10 from the Stoneham 17.
When the ball was hiked over Sannella’s head, it seemed Reading’s comeback had come up short. But Sannella caught up to it, turned, and fired a pass into the end zone to DuRoss for the touchdown. The unlikely score and missed conversion left it at 20-20 with 1:05 to play.
“I was thinking pick it up and just make a play,” Fiore said. “Sometimes it happens. He made the play he needed to make. That’s a real winner there in Matt Sannella.”
In overtime, Sannella ran it in from the 5-yard line and added the conversion run as well, giving Reading a 28-20 lead. It was Stoneham’s turn and the Spartans answered quickly with Russell scoring on the first play to make it 28-26. Then it was time for the conversion and a race to the pylon.
Bob Holmes can be reached at email@example.com.