BRIDGEWATER, Mass. –- Aside from his 112 yards rushing on 11 carries and three rushing touchdowns in Tuesday night’s Division 3A Eastern Mass playoff, the signature play of Bourne senior captain Joe Epps’ performance might have come on defense.
In the third quarter of the Canalmen’s 22-14 win over Eastern Athletic Conference champion Bishop Feehan, Epps slid into the box and undercut Shamrocks fullback James Corbesero on fourth and 1, forcing a turnover on downs at Bourne’s 5-yard line. The play changed the course of action in the second half of what was then a tied game (14-14).
The play helped set the stage for Bourne’s deciding 10-play, 80-yard drive. The Canalmen’s longest sustained drive of the evening soaked up more than five minutes of the fourth quarter, Epps tallied his third rushing score of the game, a 5-yard run with 4:46 to play, lifting the Canalmen to a Super Bowl appearance.
“I knew they were coming right up the middle,” Epps said of his fourth-down stop, one of several key defensive stops by Bourne (11-0) in the second half. “They’d been doing that all game. I knew I had him in the backfield and I knew we had to have that stop.”
The Canalmen now face Hamilton-Wenham in the Division 3A Super Bowl on Saturday.
Epps immediately put a stamp on the game with his first offensive touch. The 5-foot-11, 172-pound speedster broke around right tackle on a toss sweep -- which the Canalmen ran to perfection for much of the contest -- and ran 51 yards for a touchdown.
Feehan (7-5) answered on the ensuing drive with Corbesero’s first of two rushing touchdowns with 3:43 remaining in the first quarter.
Bourne’s lightning-quick attack struck again before the quarter was out, thanks to some great field position. The Canalmen started their drive at their own 45 and scored five plays later on Epps’ 2-yard touchdown run.
Corbesero tied the game, 14-14, before the half, with a 4-yard touchdown run. He finished the game with eight carries for 34 yards.
Bishop Feehan (7-5) -- 7 7 0 0 -- 14
Bourne (11-0) -- 14 0 0 8 -- 22
B - Joe Epps 51-yard run (kick failed)
BF - James Corbesero 11-yard run (Matt Allen kick)
B - Epps 3-yard run (Joe Epps run)
BF - Corbesero 4-yard run (Allen kick)
B - Epps 5-yard run (Jake Achstetter pass from Jason Moriarty)