Nipmuc Rallies Past Oakmont in Football Playoffs
UPTON -- In a gridiron war of attrition, winning or losing can come down to only a few plays. In Sunday’s case, three plays.
Second-seeded Nipmuc Regional stopped Oakmont Regional on one fourth-down play, blocked a punt on another, and converted fourth-and-9 from the Spartan 10 to set up the game-winning score, as the Warriors knocked off the third-seeded Spartans, 14-13, in a Central Mass. Division 5 semifinal at Nipmuc Regional High School Sunday afternoon.
The Warriors (8-1) have now won six straight and will advance to Saturday’s Central Mass. final, where Nipmuc will take on perennial power Northbridge -- the team responsible for the Warriors’ lone defeat -- at a time and place yet to be announced.
The Rams were 48-20 winners over Worcester Burncoat, Oakmont’s (5-4) next opponent, on Friday night.
Oakmont head coach Derek Asadoorian didn’t have much to say following the well-fought loss.
“Yeah, it’s disappointing; our guys worked hard, and we prepared well. Just didn’t make enough plays. I thought we had our chances, and they made a play down there,” Asadoorian said. “We had a chance down here, fourth-and-4. They made the play, and we didn’t.”
The Spartans had held a 13-7 lead for most of the game, going up by one score after Justin Jameson slipped through the Warrior secondary and waved toodle-oo from 38 yards away early in the second quarter.
But with a chance early in the fourth to get within striking distance of making it a two-TD game, Oakmont could not convert on fourth-and-4 from the Nipmuc 25, as Colton Bosselait’s pass was incomplete.
The Nipmuc offense would get as far as midfield on its next series, with Judah Dishington’s fourth-down pass falling incomplete.
Oakmont would go three-and-out on the next series, but a bad snap on the punt gave the Warriors just enough time to block the kick and to set up first-and-10 from the Oakmont 33.
From there, the game-winning drive began, as Dishington connected with Nathaniel Gould in the left flat, with Gould making a leaping grab for 22 yards to get to the Spartan 11.
Two run plays for 1 yard and an incomplete pass set up fourth-and-9, with Dishington connecting with Matthew Richards just in front of the goal line, the Oakmont defender bringing him down at the 6-inch line.
Dishington sneaked in from there to tie the game, before Gould’s point-after represented the difference.
Oakmont would drive in its final series, converting a pair of third- and fourth-down plays as Bosselait connected with Seth Daneault for 15 yards on third down and Jameson would gain 5 yards on fourth.
But two plays later, Nipmuc brought the house and sacked Bosselait off the edge to set up third-and-23, and a penalty on the Spartans would make it third-and-28.
Two straight incomplete passes ended Oakmont’s run.
The afternoon started out as brilliant for Oakmont as the weather -- five degrees warmer than up north when the Spartans had left South Ashburnham -- as ORHS opened the scoring with a five-play, 65-yard drive.
Bosselait had converted on fourth-and-2 with a 5-yard keeper to the 48, before he faked the dive handoff to Jameson and kept the ball himself. With the Warrior defense keying toward their right, Bosselait went the other way and charged through the D gap, not stopping until he secured the 52-yard touchdown.
The kick was no good, and Oakmont held a 6-0 lead.
Later in the first quarter, Nipmuc took the lead as Richard Broni scored from 38 yards out, slipping through the C gap.
Gould’s kick put the hosts ahead.
The one-point deficit did not last long, as Oakmont used some nifty pitch plays and took advantage of a 15-yard late-hit penalty to set up Jameson’s 36-yard score.
Mitchell Thomann’s kick was good, putting Oakmont ahead, 13-7.
After 22 minutes, Oakmont had 136 yards of offense to Nipmuc’s 134. In all, Nipmuc out-gained Oakmont, 232-227.
Oakmont (5-4) 6 7 0 0 -- 13
Nipmuc (8-1) 7 0 0 7 -- 17
O -- Colton Bosselait 52 run (kick failed), 8:42
N -- Richard Broni 38 run (Nathaniel Goul kick), 2:41
O -- Justin Jameson 36 run (Mitchell Thomann kick), 10:00
N -- Judah Dishington 1 run (Gould kick), 2:11