DUXBURY - Led by Shane DiBona, Duxbury pulled out a dramatic, back-and-forth victory over Xaverian, 27-24, last night.
DiBona plowed into the end zone with 41 seconds left. "These kids never gave up," said Duxbury coach Dave Maimaron.
The game didn't lack for excitement. Both teams scored on their first possession. Duxbury started with the ball and drove down the field with the strength of their running game. DiBona, a potential Division 1 recruit, ran for 59 yards on six carries, including a 31-yard touchdown run.
Xaverian answered through the air, moving the ball to the 4-yard line before Tony Knight plunged into the end zone to tie the score.
Hawks QB Anthony Varrichione tormented the Dragon secondary, finishing with more than 200 yards passing.
Duxbury took advantage of a break in the second quarter. Ben Startzell connected on a 20-yard field goal, but the Xaverian defense was whistled for a personal foul, giving the Dragons the ball at the 3-yard line. DiBona promptly ran it into the end zone, giving Duxbury the lead at the half, 14-7.
After the half, the Hawks seemed to turn the tide. On the opening kickoff, Nathan Schaney caught the ball and ran past the Duxbury coverage unit for an 84-yard touchdown return to make it 14-14. On the ensuing Duxbury possession, quarterback Sean Cross threw an interception. After Varrichione's 41-yard gallop, running back Matt Tuleja pounded the ball into the end zone from 6 yards to put Xaverian ahead, 21-14.
With Xaverian seemingly in control after making it 24-14 on a 25-yard field goal by Brennan Sweeney in the third quarter, the Duxbury offense went to work. With just under six minutes left in the game, Bob Murphy scored from 3 yards to bring the Dragons within a field goal at 24-21. Then, with 41 seconds left, DiBona capped his night with the game-winning 4-yard touchdown. DiBona finished with 150 rushing yards, 68 receiving yards, and three touchdowns. "He is a player," said Maimaron. "He is the real deal."
Duxbury was not out of the woods. Varrichione drove Xaverian down the field and set up a potential game-tying field goal, but the kick was short.
Maimaron praised his team's determination and heart. "The team believed they could win," he said.
Correction:Because of a reporting error, the name of the Xaverian player who scored on a kickoff return was incorrect in a story on the Xaverian-Duxbury football game in Saturday's Sports section. Nik McDaniels returned a kickoff 84 yards for a touchdown.