BOXFORD -- It's not very often that football takes the shape of jazz music as far a quarterback and receiver being able to improvise and play things by ear.
Saturday afternoon in the Division 2 North playoffs, a jazzy hook-up by Masconomet seniors Jack Corcoran and Marshall Lastes hit all the right notes at the most crucial time of the ballgame.
With Masco trailing visiting Newton South by three and facing 4th-and-8, QB Lastes ran a bootleg to his left. He made a defender miss and cut back all the way to the right sideline, keeping the play alive long enough for Corcoran to spring free in the end zone. Lastes threw a dart that Corcoran hauled in for the go-ahead score and the Chieftains knocked out the Lions, 27-15, on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
"That was definitely not supposed to go to me, but Marshall got himself free. I knew if he could run around long enough, he'd get the throw off, so I just tried to find some open space," said Corcoran, a senior captain who had two scores and 123 yards from scrimmage.
It was the fourth straight win for the No. 3 seed Chieftains (6-2), who advance to face No. 2 Lincoln-Sudbury (6-2) next Saturday on the road (1 p.m.). Newton South (3-5) had leads of 7-0 and 15-12 on Saturday and Masconomet had to overcome a couple of poorly timed fumbles. The Red-and-White stuck with it, forcing three turnovers of their own and getting 152 rushing yards from senior stalwart Will Hunter.
Corcoran, who ran for 83 yards and a touchdown, was in the middle of all of it. Shifting between defensive end and outside linebacker, he had numerous tackles and pressured Newton QB Angelo Rodriguez (155 yards) regularly.
"Jack is a stud," said Masco head coach Gavin Monagle. "He could play any position on offense. They couldn't get around him on defense. He's our best blocker. A lot of those inside runs, the lane is there because he's running in there and clearing the way."
Behind 7-6 after Corcoran's first touchdown, Masco got a game-changing play from a freshman. Safety Hudson Weidman picked a batted pass out of the air and raced 40 yards to the house to give Masco its first lead of the game, 12-7, which stood until halftime.
Though Newton took the lead on Rodriguez' 20-yard TD pass to Jy Spence (15-12), the young Chieftain secondary was not rattled. On the the next series, sophomore Rich Guarino came down with an interception on a play very similar to Newton's TD with only 6:25 to go.
"The young guys in the secondary were awesome. Richie, he's a sophomore, and to see him bounce back and make a huge play like that is great," said Corcoran. "And Hudson? He's going to be something special. He's been making plays like that all year."
Hunter broke free for a 44 yard run shortly after the pick, setting up a 1-yard keeper by Lastes to make it two-score game with 2:46 to play. Lastes then made his team's third interception of the game to put the playoff win away.
Sophomore linebacker Mat Nadworney had four tackles for loss for the Chieftains and senior Nik Marshall had two. In terms of passes batted out of the air, sophomore Charlie Stark, Weidman and Guarino all contributed.
"The defense played really well. They played with poise," said Monagle, his team in the semi's for the second time since moving up to Division 2. "I'm happy for our kids. A lot of them got thrown into the fire and they responded. They practiced hard and they played their hearts out."
Up front, Teddy Fellows had a big game for Masco including a bone-crunching edge block while pulling that sprung Corcoran for a big game. The Chieftains had 303 total yards of offense to 195 for the Lions, with a 201-94 edge in the second half.