FOXBOROUGH — Minutes into Saturday’s Division 3 Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium, the Tewksbury Redmen appeared supremely overmatched. Facing a school double its size in Springfield Central, the Redmen found themselves staring down an intimidating and hungry bunch of Golden Eagles.
Tewksbury trailed, 13-0, at halftime, managing just 9 yards of total offense. During a stellar regular season, Springfield Central averaged more than 48 points per game. A blowout was in play.
Yet Tewksbury exited the halftime locker room with a newfound vigor. Notching his first carry of the game on the first snap of the third quarter, senior running back Kyle Zervas took a pitch from quarterback Jay Connolly and zipped 66 yards down the left sideline, finding paydirt.
In a blink, the Golden Eagles’ lead had been cut to 6.
Tewksbury continued to claw, intercepting Springfield Central quarterback Isaac Boston twice and keeping it a one-score game. But the physicality of the Golden Eagles proved too powerful to overcome as Springfield Central outlasted Tewksbury, 20-7, to claim its first state title since in program history and first Super Bowl win since 2012. The Golden Eagles are the first western Massachusetts team to win a state title under the current format adopted in 2013.
Boston was outstanding in the first half and struggled in the second before righting his ship by turning in the game-clinching play.
With just under a minute left, Tewksbury junior Shane Aylward camped out under a punt inside his 10-yard line. There he was met by Springfield Central senior Elijah Ayers, who pried the ball loose, forcing it toward Boston, who scooped the ball and scored to seal the deal.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” said Boston. “Honestly, I was going berserk. My mom was in shambles. I just knew my team had my back. I love my team.”
Boston accumulated 63 rushing yards and 158 passing yards, completing 10 of his 16 passes to four different receivers.
The Golden Eagles began the game on a torrid pace, driving 74 yards on nine plays as junior running back Kwame Kyles plunged into the end zone from 3 yards out for the game’s first score.
After a brief cold spell to begin the second quarter, Springfield Central (11-1) added to its advantage late in the frame. Noticing pressure coming from his blindside, Boston rolled right and lofted a pass toward the corner of the end zone. Senior wideout Cqari Bacote brilliantly readjusted, turning toward the ball and reeling it in for a 22-yard touchdown.
Both defenses flaunted their mettle in the second half, but Springfield Central’s penetration up front and speed on the edges proved too great for Tewksbury (11-2).
Tewksbury coach Brian Aylward knew it was going to be an uphill battle facing the imposing Golden Eagles, but he wouldn’t blame the loss on the disparity in size of the schools. Springfield Central’s enrollment of 1,949 is more than twice the size of Tewksbury’s (966).
“That’s above my pay grade to figure out the inequities in that,” he said. “They’re a well-coached team. They’re a good team. They [have] a lot of kids. That’s how it goes in Division 3.”
Pivotal play: Late in the second quarter and protecting a 7-0 lead, Springfield Central quarterback Isaac Boston cleverly evaded pressure and found wideout Cqari Bacote in the corner of the end zone for a 22-yard score.
Springfield Central 20, Tewksbury 7
at Gillette Stadium, Foxborough
Springfield Central (11-1)
SC — Kwame Kyles 3 run (kick)
SC — Cqari Bacote 22 pass from Isaac Boston (pass failed)
T — Kyle Zervas 66 run (kick)
SC — Isaac Boston 7 fumble return (kick)
RUSHING — SC, Isaac Boston 12-63, Kwame Kyles 10-34, Jordan Lowery 3-10, Myles Bradley 2-3, Mahari Miller 1-(-3); T, Kyle Zervas 5-70, Shane Aylward 5-12, Jack Kelly 5-8, Kyle Darrigo 5-5, Jay Connolly 4-(-17)
PASSING — SC, Isaac Boston 10-16-2—158, Mahari Miller 6-7-0—29; T, Jay Connolly 8-22-1—67
RECEIVING — SC, Myles Bradley 5-60, Cqari Bacote 3-31, Andre Ellison 5-30; T, Josh Sughrue 4-38, Shane Aylward 1-25, Tyler Keough 1-9, Jack Kelly 1-3, Connor Brincklow 1-(-8)Owen Pence can be reached at email@example.com.