East Boston 26, South Boston 6

High-flying Figueroa pilots Jets

Stopping Tyrone Figueroa was a tall task for South Boston. The Eastie standout ran for two TDs and returned an interception for another score. Stopping Tyrone Figueroa was a tall task for South Boston. The Eastie standout ran for two TDs and returned an interception for another score. (Dina Rudick/Globe Staff)
Email|Print| Text size + By Jack McCluskey
Globe Correspondent / November 23, 2007

Though the sun broke through just after South Boston broke through the East Boston defense to get on the scoreboard, there would be no Hollywood ending to the Knights' season. A tough year that began with the death of coach Bob Lerro ended with a 26-6 loss as the Jets outscored South Boston, 20-0, in its last half of football in 2007.

The momentum - heavily in East Boston's favor early - seemed to swing southward when Brian King pulled down a pass from Alec Tavares in the end zone to even the score at 6 with just seconds left in the first half of the 90th Thanksgiving meeting between these teams.

But the Jets, who will play Blue Hills in a Division 3A playoff game Tuesday, rallied behind Tyrone Figueroa. The senior tailback turned on the afterburners in the third quarter to blow past the Knights with a couple of big runs and a 75-yard interception return for a touchdown.

"The turnovers killed us," said South Boston coach Sean Guthrie, referring to three Tavares interceptions. "They made some big plays on us and we weren't able to capitalize on offense."

Figueroa figured heavily on both sides of the ball, finishing with 15 carries for 127 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions.

The three touchdowns gave him 20 on the season, a number that the senior was almost as proud of as his 3.7 grade-point average.

"But it's all credited to the offensive line," said Figueroa. "Without them, there are no touchdowns."

East Boston coach John Sousa credited Figueroa with turning the game around.

"I knew he was a good athlete, but he also has a lot of character," said Sousa.

Figueroa started the Jets off on the right foot in the first quarter, intercepting Tavares's first pass, then carried the ball three times for 36 yards and his first touchdown.

After South Boston answered in the second quarter, Figueroa and the Jets rallied in the locker room.

"At halftime, everybody was talking like, 'We can't lose this game and go into the playoffs and think we're going to win,' " said Figueroa. "So everybody got geeked up, but then Southie still had the momentum."

Until the Jets tailback took the ball and ran with it.

Receiving the kickoff to start the second half, East Boston found itself moving backward when South Boston's Luis Martinez blew through a gap and dropped Andrew Swain for a 4-yard loss.

On cue, Figueroa took a handoff and raced around the left side for 26 yards. Six plays and a 15-yard penalty later, the Jets capped the 70-yard drive by giving the ball to Figueroa again for a 6-yard touchdown run and a 14-6 lead.

South Boston looked to answer, marching 30 yards to get into Jet territory, before a pass got away from Tavares and ended up in Figueroa's hands. He weaved his way through a mass of Knights for a 75-yard return that broke the game open, 20-6.

As rewarding as the win was for East Boston - it put the Jets up, 43-41-6, in the series and pushed the 2007 team to 10-0 - it was just as frustrating for South Boston.

"The kids loved Coach Lerro, so it was tough for them," said Guthrie. "They wanted to have a special season for him."

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