On Saturday morning, as he reflected on what he considers the most remarkable win he has ever been a part of, Marshfield football coach Chris Arouca provided a bit of humor on what initially appeared to be a rather bleak situation.
“I’m sure people in Marshfield were getting ‘For Sale’ signs ready at my house in the first half,” Arouca said.
By the end of the game, countless fans were flocking to Arouca, praising him for orchestrating one of the most thrilling comebacks they had ever seen.
In a game that was reminiscent of the Patriots’ shocking Super Bowl LI win over the Atlanta Falcons, Marshfield erased a 35-0 deficit to stun host Dennis-Yarmouth, 43-42.
After trailing 28-0 at halftime and 42-14 with 3:08 left in the third quarter, Marshfield snapped the Dolphins’ 20-game home win streak. Jack Markley scored from 3 yards out with 38 seconds remaining, Vinny Skulsky added the 2-point conversion, and Kyle Bernabeo picked off a pass with 17 seconds left to cap the epic rally.
“I’ve never seen anything like that before,” said Arouca, a former lineman for the Rams and assistant coach (2003-2014) who is in his second season as head coach. “I’m still kind of like, ‘How the hell did that happen?’ ”
The Marshfield players did not sulk or dwell on the poor first half at intermission. When Arouca was about to remind his players to take it one play at a time, they beat him to it, telling him they planned to do exactly that.
At that point, the Rams — who lost to Scituate in Week 1, 24-0 — had been outscored, 52-0, to start the season, but that maddening trend changed quite quickly.
“We never give up,” said senior quarterback Christian Dunn . “Our brotherhood is too great. We all care about each other and all play for each other, the coaches, and our town. We never folded. We just kept on running plays, kept on getting drives going, and kept on stopping them.”
Down 35-0, Skulsky started the action with a 65-yard scoring run and Cam Bowden reeled in a 7-yard pass from Dunn for a TD. After a D-Y score, the Rams ripped off 29 unanswered points.
Aidan True converted from 47 yards out, Cade Chabra provided a scintillating highlight with a 95-yard TD reception, and Nolan Looney registered a pick-6 with close to four minutes left to make it a one-score game.
The Rams got the ball back and scored again, and there was never any doubt they were going for 2. They had come too far, and had too much momentum to take it conservatively at that point.
“Our kids dug in as deep as I’ve ever seen anybody and somehow managed to come all the way back,” Arouca said.
Everyone around Arouca was ecstatic after Bernabeo’s pick, but he was still zeroed in on the task at hand. He wanted to make sure they didn’t squander everything they had worked so hard to achieve.
Once Dunn took a knee, and the final seconds ticked off, Arouca allowed himself to exhale and eventually celebrate. He called it an “emotional roller-coaster,” noting it was the biggest comeback he’s ever been a part of and that he hopes it stays that way.
“That was like the Patriots,” Dunn said. “Now, letting it soak in, it’s awesome.”
The Rams, who were 4-7 in 2018, were back at practice at 8 a.m. Saturday, preparing for another road game against another talented opponent in BC High. For a school that’s accustomed to contending for Super Bowls, the hope is that Friday’s win will catapult them to a string of several more.
“Hopefully the players learned about true grit and never quitting on themselves,” Arouca said.
■ Prior to Friday’s home opener against Lincoln-Sudbury, the town of Reading honored Nelson Burbank, who passed away last month at the age of 98. Burbank, a 1938 Reading High graduate, donated several million dollars to Reading youth sports, including dedicating the Burbank Ice Rink and Reading YMCA. The school retired a jersey in honor of Burbank, and took in more than 4,800 tickets on “Nelson Burbank night.”
After Lincoln-Sudbury stunned Reading, 21-20, Rocket coach John Fiore spoke about Burbank’s legacy. “What a man in the community, I don’t know where to begin,” said Fiore. “He meant a lot to so many people and the support he showed for RMHS sports . . . He was one of a kind and a great example to all of us.”
■ Quarterback Danny Gisonno played on the junior varsity at Lynn Classical last season. Now, as a senior, he has the unenviable task of replacing Keith Ridley, now at Boston College. In his first varsity start Friday night, Gisonno racked up five touchdowns, including a 42-yard run in the fourth quarter, carrying the Rams to a 48-40 win over Brockton.
“For him to play the way he played was outstanding,” coach Brian Vaughan said.
Gisonno got some help from the defense; Classical came up with a huge play to stop the Boxers’ Devonte Medley just short of the goal line as time expired.
“They’re big and fast,” Vaughn said of the Boxers. “They have some studs and some athletes. It was a fun game and a big win for the program.”
■ With the field at the high school under construction, Wayland junior kicker Harry Kiesman spent time this past summer at Lincoln-Sudbury practicing his craft. His mother and father nicely accompanied him, shagging balls.
Kiesman, a member of the varsity since his freshman year, kicked the eventual winning 35-yard field goal on the same field in Sudbury in the third quarter of Wayland’s 23-20 victory over Hopkinton.
“He really takes kicking seriously,” coach Scott Parseghian said. “For him to [do that] in the first game of the season was pretty special.”
■ A pair of seniors, quarterback Greg Cormier and wide receiver Brendan Jones, connected for four touchdowns in Bedford’s 33-30 overtime win over Saugus.
“They have a lot of chemistry together,” Bedford coach Tom Tone said, “so it was good to see.”
Down by 3, facing fourth and goal from the 10, the duo connected one final time to seal a thrilling win.
“It was a real crazy game,” Tone said. “Probably one of the wildest games I’ve been a part of. The kids had a lot of resolve.”
Trevor Hass can be reached at email@example.com.