By Dan Harrison
---- — ROXBURY — The North Shore Tech defense allowed only one touchdown Saturday night on the road against Cathedral in the Division 6 North playoff match up.
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, that touchdown came with just seconds left in the fourth quarter and gave the Panthers the 16-8 win.
“Both defenses played awesome. We’re a young team and we’re so excited to be in this position,” said Cathedral (6-1) head coach Duane Sigsbury. “I can’t say enough about coach (Paul) Worth and his kids. That’s a classy organization.”
Bryan Cedeno took an option pitch and dove across the goal line for a four-yard touchdown run with just 10 seconds left after the North Shore Tech defense had kept Cathedral offense out of the endzone for the majority of the game.
“We had a great game plan and we understood their speed,” said NST (5-3) head coach Paul Worth. “It was probably the best defensive game we played in a long time and we’ve played some great D this year.”
Middle linebacker Dan Bailey, who’s been the heart of the Bulldog defense all season long, kept Cedeno and quarterback Jermal Brevard-Jackson in check for most of the game. Meanwhile, cornerback Daniel Ramirez was challenged again and again by the Panthers and each time he rose to the occasion.
“The key to the whole defense is Bailey and he had a monster game. Bailey was the kingpin and the secondary played well too,” noted Worth. “They challenged our corner and really went after Danny (Ramirez) and he responded. It was a great playoff football game it’s just too bad we couldn’t get anything going offensively.”
The Bulldogs rushed for just 102 yards on the game and didn’t have a single rusher break 50 yards individually. NST did pass the ball surprisingly well and outside of a fourth-quarter interception by Ian LeFavour, the senior signal caller had a solid game.
After Cedeno broke a 68-yard touchdown on a punt return to put the Panthers ahead 8-0, LeFavour hit Ramirez on a play action pass in the flat and Ramirez took it to the house for a 60-yard touchdown to tie the game.
As for the rushing game, a big, athletic Cathedral defensive front proved enough against a good Bulldog offensive line.
“We know we’re pretty one dimensional but we need to (pass) because we couldn’t run the ball. They threw nine in the box and we blocked well at the point of attack but we couldn’t sustain the blocks,” said Worth. “That’s where their athleticism really showed more than anywhere else. There would be a hole and we had it blocked but they would get off their blocks and make the tackle. I give my kids a lot of credit, they played their hearts out.”
Before Cedeno’s game-winning touchdown, North Shore Tech had a fourth and four on its own 47 and Worth elected to go for it with just over three minutes left. Ross Murphy was stopped short and Cathedral took over on downs.
“Maybe if we had punted we’d be playing overtime. As s coach you always second guess yourself when you don’t get it. Maybe if we called a different play or if we had punted,” said Worth. “We are what we are and we’ve done what we’ve done for 20 years. We went for it, didn’t get it and to their credit they went down and scored.”