WESTFORD, Mass. -- The mettle of the Westford Academy Grey Ghosts was tested in the fourth quarter but the team responded accordingly and held off the visiting Marshfield Rams, on their way to a 27-13 victory on Saturday night.
Marshfield pulled to within seven points of No. 20 Westford after head coach Lou Silva dialed up a 44-yard touchdown on a double-pass from Charles LaPaglia to Jonathan Fraser early in the fourth quarter. But after that score the Grey Ghosts showed their grit.
On its next offensive possession, Westford’s drive came to a third and 14 in Marshfield territory when quarterback Patrick Dugan tossed up a 34-yard touchdown to Mark Cornelius. The touchdown stretched the lead back to 14 and put an end to any chances Marshfield had at a comeback.
“Toward the end we knew we needed a score going down the field to ice the game,” Dugan said about the final touchdown. “After a blown coverage on my behalf…[Mark Cornelius] and I knew we needed to step up, make a play and get the job done.”
The game marked the return of a healthy Cornelius to the Grey Ghosts’ lineup after he was limited in the last two games due to injury.
The receiver helped spread the field for the Westford offense and finished with two catches for 78 yards and one touchdown. He also added an interception on the last play of the first half.
“We knew it was cover zero coming in, so we knew they were going to play us man-to-man and took it a little personally,” Dugan said about the connection between he and Cornelius.
Dugan completed 6 of 10 passes for 141 yards and three touchdown passes to three different receivers as the offense had an all-around solid night.
The Grey Ghosts defense was no slouch either.
The Rams struggled to get past the front-seven of Westford’s 3-4 defense. On the defensive line Mike Mizzoni, Joe Donnelly and Scott Herald stuffed the gaps and linebackers Zach Ingalls, Ethan Stokes, Mark Hennessy and Cam Martin made the stops.
“We tried to play hard-nosed defense and smash them as much as we can,” said Mizzoni. “Its just a lot of reacting from what they do.”
Marshfield ended the game without a player running for more than 30 yards on the night.
“Our front seven has done a great job all year,” Westford head coach Rich McKenna said of his defense. “Last year, our run defense was a little suspect so all the kids took offense to it and are really trying to prove everyone wrong.”
Ingalls played big at outside linebacker for Westford but was also a dependable running option on offense. The senior captain played multiple positions on offense for the Grey Ghosts and finished the game with 13 carries for 58 yards and a 25-yard touchdown catch. He also had an 85-yard kickoff return touchdown on the opening kickoff.
“Zach Ingalls is an awesome football player and we are blessed to have him,” McKenna said. “The kid just has a non-stop motor.”
Both teams struggled on special teams. Westford blocked a punt and a point after touchdown attempt and Marshfield blocked a punt as well.
M - 6 0 0 7 - 13
W - 7 7 6 7 - 27
W - Ingalls 87 kickoff return touchdown (Justin Mount kick)
M - Bryan Mey 7 run (kick blocked)
W - Ingalls 25 pass from Dugan (Mount kick)
W - Mount 31 pass from Dugan (kick failed)
M - Fraser 44 pass from LaPaglia (Brendan Doherty kick)
W - Cornelius 34 pass from Dugan (Mount kick)