Marblehead scores with seven seconds left to stun Super Bowl-bound Swampscott

Marblehead's AJ Russo was hands on against Swampscott, scoring the winning touchdown.
Marblehead's AJ Russo was hands on against Swampscott, scoring the winning touchdown. nic antaya for The Globe

MARBLEHEAD — The final play of AJ Russo’s high school career instantly became one of the best moments of his life.

The senior wide receiver hauled in the winning 21-yard touchdown pass with seven seconds remaining, lifting host Marblehead to a thrilling 22-16 win over Swampscott in the 110th meeting between the schools on Thanksgiving Day.

After Swampscott kicker Thomas Frisoli gave the Big Blue a 16-14 lead on a 24-yard field goal with 46 seconds left, sophomore quarterback Josh Robertson drove the Magicians down the field and perfectly placed a pass to a streaking Russo in the end zone.

Marblehead finished the season 7-4, and Swampscott (9-3) will look to rebound with a Division 5 Super Bowl matchup against Amherst on Dec. 7 to prepare for.


“That was easily one of the best moments of my life, it was breathtaking,” Russo said. “I saw single coverage and I knew I could beat him. It’s the best feeling in football. There’s no other way I would rather have it happen.”

Robertson and Russo put Marblehead up early, connecting in the second quarter on a 15-yard touchdown pass. However, Swampscott responded immediately on Zack Palmer’s 65-yard kickoff return.

Tim Cronin (29 carries, 140 yards, TD) put the Magicians ahead, 14-7, in the third quarter on a 39-yard scamper down the sideline. Late in the fourth quarter, Swampscott quarterback Graham Inzana engineered a scoring drive that was capped by a touchdown pass to Andrew Augustin. But a blocked extra point kept Marblehead ahead, 14-13.

Swampscott successfully recovered an onside kick with 3:05 to go and booted the go-ahead field goal before Robertson and Russo hooked up in the final seconds.

“It was an unbelievable drive,” Marblehead coach Jim Rudloff said. “The play was intended to get a quick 5 yards and set up for a field goal but Josh decided to throw it and did a great job putting the ball right on the money. This win means everything.”


Matt Doherty can be reached at matthew.doherty@globe.com.