PEABODY — You can game plan to slow down Bishop Fenwick’s running attack. You can game plan to slow down the Crusaders’ passing game. And, if you’re lucky, you might even hold back both a little on a given night.
What you can’t game plan for is Nick Bona making plays in the most dire situations.
Austin Prep came to Donaldson Field last night for a Division 5 North semifinal against Fenwick with a solid plan, and the Cougars executed it to near perfection. But Bona produced points on a pair of fourth down plays and added the insurance touchdown with time winding down in the Crusaders’ 28-12 victory.
Unbeaten Fenwick will host the Divison 5 North final Friday night against the winner of today’s Northeast Regional-Manchester Essex game.
“He’s the MVP of our league; it’s not even close,” Austin Prep coach Bill Maradei said about Bona. “He’s a great player ... we had him 4th-and-10, we had him 4th-and-20.”
Bona’s ability to make something out of nothing destroyed the Cougars, who were getting into the backfield regularly on both pass and run plays.
Midway through the second quarter with Fenwick leading 7-6, the Crusaders found themselves facing a 4th-and-10 at the Austin Prep 25. Bona dropped back to pass but elected to tuck it away, facing heavy pressure. He eluded at least four tackles in the backfield before sprinting ahead for the score.
That touchdown drive was kept alive by another fourth down conversion when Bona connected with James Traversey for a 7-yard pickup on 4th-and-3.
Bona’s fourth down heroics didn’t stop there.
Fenwick perfectly executed a fake punt on 4th-and-10 from midfield when Eric Razney dumped the ball off to Traversey, who raced 30 yards downfield.
The Crusaders were unable to move the ball for three plays, then took a 10-yard penalty on fourth down. Bona was unfazed by a 4th-and-20 situation, delivering an on-the-money pass to a streaking Razney, who scored from 30 yards out.