Georgetown Royals Football '07

Thu, Nov 22, 2007 10:00 AM @ Georgetown
Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Manchester Essex 0 14 0 13 27
Georgetown 0 7 0 0 7
Bryan Eaton, Staff PhotographerMore photos

Hornets clinch playoff berth with Thanksgiving victory

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Thursday, November, 22 By Nick Curcuru

GEORGETOWN | Big Players make big plays in big games. That has been the slogan all season long for the Manchester Essex football team.

After yesterday's 27-7 Commonwealth Conference small championship-clinching victory over Georgetown, the entire Hornets team could be seen as big players for making a number of big plays in the biggest game of the season.

With the win, the Hornets (9-2) move on to the Division 4 playoffs for the second straight season where they will play Brighton on Tuesday | the time and location of the game have yet to be determined.

"This is the best game we have played all year," Manchester Essex head coach Mike Athanas said. "We played four quarters of smash mouth football, I couldn't be more proud. The kids did exactly what we asked them to do and more."

The Hornets took it to the Royals (8-2) from the opening drive of the game when they marched inside the 10-yard line only to see their drive stall due to a fumble. After stopping Georgetown three-and-out, the Hornets got the ball back at midfield.

After a Sam Cohen diving 23-yard catch inside the five, half back Brian Ciccone punched it in from three yards out to give the Hornets a 7-0 lead.

After getting the ball back on a fourth down stop, Ciccone would race 75 yards on the first play of the drive to put Manchester Essex up 14-0. Royals running back Brandon Wade would add a 5-yard score with under a minute to go in the first half to make it 14-7.

The second half was where the game would reach it's turning point.

The Royals were grinding their way down the field on their first possession of the half and appeared to be going in for a potential tying score, when Ciccone picked off Georgetown quarterback Joe Esposito inside the five to give the Hornets the ball back.

"That was the turning point of the game," Athanas said. "We needed to stop their first drive of the second half to get the momentum back on our side."

The Royals defense would stop the Hornets three-and-out and get the ball back in Hornets territory. The Hornets defense, however, would not allow the Royals to tie up the game. A swarm of Manchester Essex defenders led by Phil Gillette, Jim Rash and Jack Bishop stuffed Esposito on fourth-and-two to thwart another Royals scoring opportunity.

Georgetown head coach Matt Bouchard believes that play was the game's turning point.

"If we get that first down it could have been a completely different game," Bouchard said. "We could have tied the game up and swung momentum into our favor, who knows what would have happened?"

The Hornets would get some insurance on the ensuing drive traveling 70 yards on seven plays. Quarterback Pat Orlando capped off the drive with a 6-yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth quarter to make it 20-7. The Hornets would put the game away on their next drive when a Max Quirk interception set up a Ciccone touchdown catch from an Orlando shovel pass to make it 27-7.

Orlando powered the Hornets offense with 113 yards on 9 of 12 passing and added 88 yards rushing. Orlando also had an interception on defense. The junior signal-caller was very pleased with his team's performance.

"This is an amazing feeling right now, I can't even describe it," Orlando said. "We really came together as a team today."

Ciccone also played well for the Hornets with a team-high 96 yards rushing and three total touchdowns to go with his interception on defense. Athanas also credited the play of defensive ends Scott Forsythe, Tim Corsetti and Jim Rash for containing Esposito.

"Our defensive ends did a great job on (Esposito)," Athanas said. "He is a great player and he is going to get his yards, but our three guys really stepped up their game as did the entire defense. We knew our jobs on every play, which is key in a hard fought game like this one."

Up next for the Hornets is Boston City League South champion Brighton. Orlando pointed out that the Hornets will be coming into the game very confident on the heels of yesterday's win.

"Playing like this jumps our confidence right up," Orlando said. "Right now we are feeling like we can beat anybody."

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