TEWKSBURY — Tom Casey might have guessed, and if he did he hit the lottery.
With 2:43 left in a tied championship game, Tewksbury’s junior linebacker jumped in front of Marblehead’s Dylan Cressy, intercepted Matt Millett’s pass and took it back 24 yards for a touchdown.
Casey’s return sparked his team to a 34-21 win over Marblehead Saturday afternoon, giving Tewksbury (10-0) the first Division 3 Northeast championship.
Two snaps before the interception, Millett fired a bullet to Cressy on a similar route. It’s hard to say if Casey subsequently guessed, read the play or had some inside information, but Magician head coach Jim Rudloff gave him all the credit for the game-changing play.
“Just smart,” said Rudloff. “Right before the snap he turned to the kid next to him and I think I heard him say ‘hitch.’ Kudos to him. It was a great play.”
The Redmen missed the extra point, giving Marblehead (8-2) the ball back trailing by just six (27-21). But Tewskbury recovered a fumble after a sack, and James Sullivan (game-high 144 rushing yards) scored from 22 yards out to make it 34-21.
Marblehead and Tewksbury traded punches throughout the second half, with both teams getting countless big stops on defense. Yet in a matter of minutes, the Redmen put 13 points on the board to advance to next weekend’s state semifinal against Division 3 Northwest champ Melrose at Lowell’s Cawley Stadium.
“The whole second half, you could feel the sense of urgency on those big downs,” said Tewksbury head coach Brian Aylward. “Both teams played with savvy. There were a lot of kids getting after it out there.”
The Magicians defense, led by middle linebackers Liam Gillis and Ben Anderson, strung out the Redmen’s runs in the second half. Marblehead was losing the field position battle for most of the last two quarters, but continuously got stops on big third downs.