WEST ROXBURY, Mass. -- Lucas Depina may well have antifreeze flowing through his veins.
With Brockton’s No. 1 receiver Albert Louis-Jean out with a leg cramp, Depina caught a 41-yard pass from quarterback Paul Mroz on fourth and nine with seven seconds remaining in the game to boost the No. 2 Boxers (8-2) past No. 23 Catholic Memorial, 19-18, evading the upset that might have been.
“[Depina] catches the ball when he really needs to,” Mroz said. “I prayed to God before that play, and God answered those prayers."
Trailing 13-12 with 5:20 left in the game, Catholic Memorial (5-3) got the ball at their own 21 with their sights on a score, going right to the air while field goal kicker Tom Byrne was warming up his leg on the sideline. Two passes from A.J. Doyle to William Earl (4 yards) and John Gorman (21) put CM on their own 45.
A pair of nine-yard runs by Earl and Donovan Henry (8 carries, 86 yards) moved the ball down to the Boxers’ 36. Brandon Hamel dashed twice to the left, picking up 14 yards on each carry, setting up a first and goal from the 8.
Doyle (five carries, 28 yards) rushed for five yards before being wrapped up by Giovanni Hyppolite (four tackles). Henry was stopped at the line of scrimmage by Brockton’s David Hylton and Zach Apotheker (five tackles) for no gain. The successful run game left Brockton vulnerable to a quick hitch from Doyle to Armani Reeves in the left flat, who swept into the end zone to put CM up 18-13.
The dictatorial drive could have knocked Brockton out, but the Boxers refused to bow out without a battle.
“Unbelievable, gutsy, gutsy performance on a rough night,” Boxers head coach Peter Colombo said to his team after the game. “We didn’t play our best, but we won a football game. We showed a lot of heart, I am very proud of everybody.”
On the ensuing kickoff, a seven yard return by Jesse Monteiro put Brockton on their 40. After a Mroz pass went off the hand of Trevon Offley (24 carries, 150 yards), he found Ryan Kelley to his left, who took the ball up the sideline and was pushed out of bounds by Dimitri Claude(fumble recovery, four tackles) at the Knights’ 42-yard line with 36 second left. Mroz rushed for one yard down to the 41 before a failed pass and a rush by Offley, both for no gain, brought up fourth and nine with 16 seconds left.
On the following play, Brockton went in for the win, sending their receivers into the end zone. With their go-to receiver, Albert Louis-Jean, on the sidelines with a leg cramp, Mroz tossed the ball up top to a wide open Depina, who pulled in the ball and fell past the plane, bringing much of the Brockton sideline with him into the end zone for a victory fête.
“He’s got about five catches this year, and three or four of them are for touchdowns,” added Colombo. “For a kid that has had a limited role this year, he’s had a huge impact on the offense. He understands that on a lot of teams, he may be the go-to receiver, but this year he’s got to play his role and he was ready when we called on him. “
One Foot, One Point, Huge Win
Without Depina’s extra point kick in the third quarter, the score with seven seconds remaining would have left the Boxers tied with CM, but his ability to the boot conversion with ease was extremely valuable to the outcome of the game. “Lucas is just a high level athlete,” said Colombo. “He’s a high level volleyball player and a high level soccer player, which is where the kicking comes from.”
No. 2 Brockton 0 0 7 12 -- 19
No. 23 CM 0 0 12 6 -- 18
C - Donovan Henry 60 run (pass failed)
B - Trevon Offley 13 run (Lucas Depina kick)
C - Henry 82 pass from Camren Williams (rush failed)
B - Offley 38 run (rush failed)
C - Amani Reeves 3 pass from A.J. Doyle (rush failed)
B - Depina 41 pass from Paul Mroz (rush failed)