Goal-oriented Govs win ISL
BYFIELD - When new Governor’s Academy coach Jim O’Leary met with his team for the first time this fall, he set goals for the upcoming season. Senior tackle Todd Moores quickly interrupted the coach to inform him that there was only one goal the team had in mind: play nine games.
With a 41-14 win yesterday over Belmont Hill in its final game of the Independent School League regular season, Governor’s Academy (8-0) secured its first ISL title since 2004 and guaranteed itself a ninth game - a NEPSAC bowl game.
“We made sure we took it one game at a time,’’ O’Leary said. “We named each game ‘missions’ - Mission 1, Mission 2 - until we finally got to that ninth game.’’
Behind junior tailback Elijah Morrissey and junior quarterback Tate Jozokos, Governor’s rushed for more than 300 yards against Belmont Hill, which had allowed just 6.3 points per game.
Morrissey carried 27 times for 144 yards and two touchdowns, while Jozokos rushed 12 times for 140 yards and three scores.
“The better team won,’’ said Belmont Hill coach Kevin Fleming. “We worried about them being so physical, and I think that’s what happened up front.’’
Jozokos opened the scoring with 5:44 left in the first quarter when he capped a six-play drive by sneaking into the end zone from 2 yards out. On Governor’s next drive, Jozokos (4-for-8 passing, 91 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception) threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to Frank Barba.
Morrissey’s 3-yard touchdown run with 4:51 left in the second quarter was answered by a Belmont Hill score when Conor Murphy found Alfredo Barros for a 44-yard touchdown, cutting the lead to 19-7 with 1:58 left in the first half.
But it was as close as the game would get.
Governor’s scored on its first three drives of the second half - a 2-yard rush by Morrissey, a 17-yard run by Jozokos, and a 14-yard run by Jozokos - to make the score 41-7 with 7:11 left.
The Governor’s offensive line of Moores, John Dresser, Tucker Oniskey, Ryan Macri, and Peter Hines got credit from Jozokos for clearing the way.
“I can’t say anything better about the line,’’ Jozokos said. “All year round . . . they did unbelievable.’’
The Governor’s defense forced three turnovers by Belmont Hill (7-1) and only allowed one score before most of the starters were removed from the game. Governor’s senior linebacker Kirk Ryder had three sacks, a forced fumble, and an interception.
“[Murphy] is a pretty good quarterback,’’ said O’Leary. “If we let him sit back, he was going to pick us apart. Our strategy was just, ‘Go get him.’ ’’
The game was the last in the ISL for Fleming, who will retire at the end of the season after 23 years as Belmont Hill coach.
“That’s not the way I wanted to end it,’’ said Fleming, who has won six ISL titles, two New England championships, and eight bowl games. “But the better team did win. You know, I’m proud of my kids.’’
Belmont Hill is still eligible for one of the five NEPSAC bowl games, whose participants will be determined today.