Central Catholic Raiders Football '07

Sat, Oct 20, 2007 01:30 PM @ Tewksbury
Team Final
Central Catholic 27
Tewksbury 30

Late implosion dooms Central title hopes

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Sunday, October, 21 By Hector Longo
Staff writer

The traditional roles, at times, reversed, suddenly pass-happy Central Catholic surrendered chunks of ground yardage to conservative Tewksbury.

But who was complaining? The Raiders held a 21-14 advantage over the Redmen with less than five minutes left. "That last five minutes, things just went wrong ... everything caved in," said stunned Raider coach Chuck Adamopoulos after he watched the lead and, most probably, his team's Merrimack Valley Conference title hopes disintegrate in a depressing 30-27 loss to Tewksbury. The Raider mistakes compounded like a loan-shark's interest rates, by the second, with each sending Central deeper and deeper into the red.

First, a blown coverage put the Redmen in position for the tying score when Chris Texeira (11 of 12, 121 yards) hit Pat Devlin on a 25-yard hookup at the Raider 1.

Then, a block in the back penalty on the ensuing play pinned the Raiders in deep at their own 9 with 2:50 left.

On second down from the 9, Shain Jowett dropped deep on a play-action pass and was drilled for a sack/safety that gave the Redmen the lead for good, 23-21.

An onside free-kick went to the Redmen, who milked the clock and punted to the Central 1 with 58 seconds to play.

Jowett again dropped back but couldn't find a receiver. His desperation two-hand flip was plucked out of the air by Redmen linebacker Matt Bailey, who waltzed in from the 7 for the easiest of TDs. Ron Wallace's PAT kick put the game out of reach at 30-21.

Central got a 54-yard bomb from Dennis Torres to Jose Polanco, and Jowett came back off the bench to throw a 9-yard TD pass to Chris Farren as time expired, but the damage done was fatal.

Adamopoulos looked toward his defense, which allowed the Redman 6.2 yards per play, for answers in this one. "We didn't stop them enough during the game; we didn't stop them when we had to," said Adamopoulos. "Credit Tewksbury's offense, but we played poorly on defense."

Jowett was effective at times, hitting 9 of 18 passes, but the Raiders allowed four drive-killing sacks, the last being the knockout punch.

All-scholastic bruiser Mike Leavitt carried 10 times for 78 yards and added a pair of catches for 87 yards.

His highlight play for the day was the final play of the first half, in which he took a middle screen dump off from Jowett at the Central 28 and somehow meandered 72 yards down the field to paydirt as time expired.

It looked like all 11 Redmen got at least a shoulder on Leavitt on the play, but somehow, the 5-10, 195-pounder maintained his balance and fought off every hit.

"Mike is a great player, one of the best players in the state," said Adamopoulos. "Big players make the big plays, and that was a great one."

Even the opposition had to admire Leavitt's athleticism on that play.

"That's as special a play as I can remember (against us)," said Redmen coach Brian Aylward. "We've seen some good ones. (Andover's) Buddy Farnham had a couple of great ones here three years ago, but this one goes right at the top."

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