ROCKLAND — Dom Cavanagh set the tone from the start, carrying Ashland to its second straight Division 6 South final with a 33-16 win over host Rockland at Veteran’s Memorial Stadium Friday night.
On the Clockers’ opening drive, the senior quarterback scrambled for a 2-yard touchdown, and then killed the second-seeded Bulldogs’ first drive with a diving interception on a tipped pass.
Cavanagh took full advantage of his takeaway by plunging in for a 1-yard score a few plays later to give No. 3 Ashland (9-0) an early 13-0 advantage.
“Everything, he’s everything,” said Ashland head coach Andrew MacKay. “He’s everything to me. I love him to death. He probably knows the offense better than I do.”
The Rockland (8-1) defense had no answers in the first half as Cavanagh carved it up to the tune of nine completions and 159 yards.
“We always like our matchups on offense,” said Cavanagh. “We have great athletes at receiver and running back.”
Senior runner Eddie Braganca helped put the game out of reach with touchdowns of 5 and 11 yards in the second half.
The aforementioned early lead was critical in stopping the Bulldogs’ dynamic playmaker Dante Vasquez.
“Offensively, we wanted to get to a quick start because we felt like we could get them into some uncomfortable situations,” MacKay said.
Vasquez was held to 107 rushing yards and a touchdown, a far cry from his five-touchdown performance the week prior against Greater New Bedford.
“Their offense revolves around Dante, and we kept saying that if we take out one guy, we have a good chance to win and we executed pretty well,” said Cavanagh.
Ashland will take on the winner of Saturday’s Old Rochester-Norwell game. Old Rochester trounced the Clockers’ in last year’s sectional final, 28-6.
“We need to get a little bit better,” said MacKay. “It’s the game we lost last year, and we’re looking to flip that outcome.”
Steve Sousa can be reached at email@example.com.