BYFIELD, Mass.- It wasn’t always pretty and it wasn’t always easy, but Governor’s Academy kept its hopes for an undefeated season alive Friday with a 29-10 victory over Milton Academy.
Governor’s Academy (7-0) started the game slow, failing to convert a 4th-and-5 from midfield. That gave Milton (3-4) good field position, and it took full advantage by driving down the field and converting a field goal to give them an early lead.
On the Govs next possession, it drove down inside the redzone, but the drive was stopped when quarterback Tate Jozokos was intercepted around the goal line, giving the momentum back to Milton.
The Govs swung the momentum back in their direction when they sacked Milton quarterback Anthony Scurto in the endzone for a safety.
Governor’s Academy finally got in the endzone when Jozokos capped off a five-minute drive late in the second quarter with a quarterback sneak to give his team an 8-3 lead. He redeemed his interception with 5 seconds remaining in the quarter when he took the ball from under center, ran a sweep to the left, and took it 35 yards down the sideline to put his team up two scores going into halftime.
“We only had 5 seconds and someone said, ‘Let’s throw the Hail Mary,’ and I said, ‘Ya know what? They’re going to be playing deep, and we have such a great running quarterback, I said if we just get around the corner with some blocks, he might take it in,” said Governor’s Academy coach Jim O’Leary. “He made a great move to get to the pylon and it was just huge, huge momentum for us. A big, big play.”
Milton was able to take advantage of a sluggish second half start by the Govs and drove down the field in 3 minutes for a touchdown. It appeared the tide might be turning when Milton picked off Jozokos again later in the quarter. However, Drew Jacobs fumbled on the first Milton offensive play after the fumble, giving the ball right back to Governor’s Academy.
They drove down the field and put the metaphorical exclamation point on the game with Jozokos’ third rushing touchdown of the afternoon.
Running back Elijah Morrissey contributed heavily on the ground for the Govs with 20 carries for 87 yards. Jozokos finished with 18 carries for 97 yards and the three touchdowns.
-- Governor’s Academy was dominant with both its run game and defense Friday. Jozokos only attempted seven passes through the air, two of which were intercepted. While those two interceptions killed scoring opportunities, he knew he had to keep his head in the game. “Those set me back a little bit, but I knew I still had to lead the team,” he said. “As QB, you have to lead your team, so I was able to put them behind me with the support of my team. They told me I still got it, so with my team’s support, I knew I could bounce back.”
-- With the inclement weekend weather effecting much of Massachusetts into the early parts of the week, many schools were without power, which forced cancellations. Jozokos felt that those days away from school and ultimately, the practice field, may have contributed to the Govs sluggish start Friday. “With the power outage, we really only had one full practice and then a walk-through,” he said. “With those two days off, our guys weren’t really into it, so we didn’t get into the emotion and the momentum going into this game. I think it took us a little bit to get into the game. I think not having a full week of practice was the main reason we didn’t come out so hot.”
-- With the victory, the Govs are set for a showdown next weekend with also undefeated Belmont Hill. The winner of that game will stand alone atop the Independent School League at the end of the regular season. The gravity of the game is not lost on the players, nor the coaches. “You try not to look ahead each week, we play one game at a time, but it’s always in the back of your mind,” said O’Leary. “We’re looking forward to it. It’s here, but I’m sure these guys will come to play. It’s a tough challenge for us, this year Belmont Hill was picked to be the best, they came through undefeated, so it’s going to be a showdown, but that’s what we’ve been waiting for.”
“Obviously Belmont Hill is an unbelievable team,” said Jozokos. “It’s definitely going to be a big matchup. We’ve been looking forward to it all season long. We know we have to come ready to play from the first snap, so we’ll get ready this week because it’s a big game for the Super Bowl, so we’ll be ready for a dogfight.”
GOVERNORS ACADEMY 29, MILTON ACADEMY 10
GOV (7-0) - 2 12 7 8 -- 29
MILTON (3-4) - 3 0 7 0 -- 10
M - Justin Yoon 46-yard field goal
G - Safety
G - Tate Jozokos 2-yard run (2-point conversion failed)
G - Jozokos 35-yard run (2-pt conversion failed)
M - Drew Jacobs 12-yard run (Yoon kick good)
G - Jozokos 1-yard run (Colin Smith kick good)
G - Samuel Davis 6-yard run (2-point conversion good)