WEST BRIDGEWATER — As if playing Holbrook/Avon on Thanksgiving Day wasn’t enough incentive for West Bridgewater, the Wildcats received a shot of adrenaline because a Holbrook victory would have forced a coin toss to decide the Mayflower Small Conference champion.
“It played a huge role,” West Bridgewater lineman Zack Harris said after West Bridgewater prevailed, 27-20. “We weren’t going to let a team that we think we’re way better than come on this field, beat us and try to go to the [Division 5] Super Bowl. That wasn’t going to happen.
“I think it was a slap in the face to think that athletic directors think they can come here and automatically have a coin toss.”
Harris was one of several Wildcats (2-3, 4-6) who made sure that wouldn’t be required, ensuring Upper Cape would go “bowling.”
Harris blocked a punt with 30 seconds left in the second quarter and smothered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown that gave West Bridgewater a 21-6 lead at halftime.
He also recovered two onside kicks and caught a deflected pass for an 8-yard gain.
“I’ve never blocked a punt, I’ve never caught a pass, and I’ve never recovered any onside kicks,” Harris said. “I’m a lineman, born and raised.”
In coach Bill Panos’s opinion, Harris is an athlete – period.
“With that size and footwork, it’s hard to hold him back,” Panos said.
It appeared the Wildcats wouldn’t be able to hold back the Bulldogs (3-2, 6-2) after Ben Riordan (137 yards on 17 carries) ripped off a 41-yard touchdown run less than four minutes into the first quarter.
West Bridgewater responded by covering 56 yards in six plays, with Aaron Pearson scoring on an 11-yard run and Tiarra Murrell kicking the PAT.
Then, after Riordan was stopped on fourth and 1 from West Bridgewater’s 15, the Wildcats grabbed a 13-6 lead on an 8-yard run by Pearson.
Holbrook/Avon had a chance to tie the score when Lucas Currier intercepted a pass at Holbrook/Avon’s 10. But six plays later, Harris blocked Riordan’s punt, which he fell on in the end zone.
The Bulldogs reduced the deficit to 21-12 on a 54-yard pass from Currier to Duret Georges, but West Bridgewater answered when Jordan Ames scored on a 2-yard run with 3:14 left.
Currier’s 15-yard TD pass to Georges with 42 seconds remaining closed out the scoring.