BRAINTREE — With a double-digit deficit at halftime and starting running back Ross Murphy sidelined with a concussion, the North Shore Tech/Essex Aggie football team could have packed it in against Blue Hills in last night’s Small School Vocational Bowl Championship.
Instead, the Bulldogs switched some things up offensively and fought tooth-and-nail with the Warriors, ultimately coming up on the short end of the 23-22 final score.
“We’ve got some talented kids, so we tried to get them in space. We had to; Murphy was out and they took the run away,” said North Shore Tech/Essex Aggie head coach Paul Worth, whose team saw its season end at 7-4.
“It was a great football game — and we had a great season. It’s too bad we didn’t win.”
David Neil rushed in a pair of 1-yard touchdowns in the opening half and Blue Hills (8-4) converted both of its 2-point conversions to go up 16-0 late in the second quarter. The Warriors’ Wing-T offense didn’t catch the locals off guard, though; the Bulldogs simply took some time catching up to the speed and physicality of the game after a long layoff period.
“The three-week layoff hurt us,” explained Worth, whose team hadn’t played a game since Nov. 16. “I was hoping it wouldn’t. But we didn’t catch up to game speed fast enough.”
The Bulldogs were able to find some life when Ian LaFavour hit Yordany Sanchez for a 65-yard touchdown pass on the final play of the first half, but they couldn’t convert on the two-point conversion.
Murphy, who took a big hit in the opening quarter, couldn’t come back out for the third quarter. So North Shore Tech/Essex Aggie scrapped the heavy, three-back set it was using offensively for a single back with receivers spread out on both sides. The Bulldogs also switched in Sanchez at quarterback so he could run the read option.