NORTH EASTON, Mass. -- Sophomore Jake Gibb wasn't the starting quarterback at the beginning of the season for Stoughton, but you'd never know that with the confidence he played with on the Black Knights’ final drive Friday.
Gibb led Stoughton from their own 26-yard line to the Oliver Ames 8 in 16 plays before kicking the game-winning field goal himself with just over a minute left as No. 2 seed Stoughton downed previously unbeaten No. 1 Oliver Ames, 16-14, in the Division 3 Southwest final.
"We had a tough time," Stoughton head coach Greg Burke said. "They are a good team, an excellent team. I'm happy they had a great season and I'm glad we aren't playing them again. They gave us a good licking in the first one and we played a little better today and we played harder and it showed, I think, that we got a little better then maybe they did.
Oliver Ames opened the fourth quarter with two straight incompletions before punting it to the Black Knights with 10:30 left in the fourth quarter. Stoughton used up 9:22 on their 16-play drive before Gibb put it through the uprights on a 25-yard field goal with 1:08 left.
But Oliver Ames nearly stole it back.
After the field goal, Oliver Ames returned it to their own 28 and quarterback Nick Cidado drove his team down to the Stoughton 11-yard line in 51 seconds. But with just three seconds left, the Tiger's 28-yard field goal was wide right.
"We probably should have knocked off a few more seconds down here," Burke said of their long drive. "We tried to knock off as much as we could for the field goal but you don't want your own guys thinking about a field goal, you just want to go out and do it. It's a touch call for a sophomore."
Gibb actually missed a 32-yard field goal in the first half, but credited his teammates for keeping him calm on his second attempt.
"It started low and I was really nervous about that," Gibb said of his confidence level. "The team settled me down and made sure I was calm kicking it."
Gibb finished with a staggering stat line of sorts (2 of 4 passing for 30 yards, in addition to 8 yards rushing), but the timing of his numbers couldn't have been any better.
On its last drive, Stoughton ran into a third-and-7 on its own 29 before Gibb had his first completion — a 21-yard gain to junior Brian Crimmins. Just three plays later, the Black Knights faced third and 4 at the OA 44, and this time Gibb scrambled for just enough to move the chains.
Maybe the biggest run for Gibb came when Stoughton faced a fourth-and-2 from the OA 29-yard line, Gibb's QB sneak gained four yards and a first down for Stoughton. Gibb had his second completion of the night, hitting Crimmins on a third-down that gave Stoughton the ball inside the OA red zone.
"The coaches have definitely helped me out the most," Gibb said. "They always tell me 'you're the one next if something happens' and that's what happened when Stanley [Sajous] went down. I had to step up. Coach tells me what to read and I have the run option and if I see it, I'll take it.
Crimmins was without a reception before his two catches as Gibb had yet to complete a pass, only having attempted just one in the first half — a Hail Mary-esque try right before the half — and one in the second. Despite not having connected, there was no wavering in Gibb's confidence.
"It's very high," Gibb said. "[Brian] told me he was going to be there for me no matter what, I threw it there and I trusted him with everything that I have and it turned out great."
Lennox Green and Jovani Pires did most of the legwork in the backfield for Stoughton, who ran on 14 of its last 16 plays. Pires finished with 107 yards on 16 carries, while Green had 96 yards on 13 carries and both of Stoughton's touchdowns.
Green opened the scoring on the first play of the second quarter, punching it in from one-yard out after Oliver Ames turned the ball over on their first two possessions. The Tigers got on the board after Colin Lozzi came up with a huge tackle in Stoughton's end zone to force a safety. The Tigers then took the lead with just 12 seconds left in the first half as Cidado found sophomore Franklin Holgate for a one-yard score, just one play after the two connected on a 29-yard play.
OA forced a three-and-out on Stoughton's opening drive of the second half, and a low snap gave the Tigers the ball at the Stoughton 26-yard line. Five plays later, Cidado hit sophomore Andrew Callachan over the middle for a 7-yard touchdown. The extra point fake attempt was snuffed out by Stoughton.
The Black Knights made it a 1-point game when Green took a handoff to the left, but cut back across the middle and outran OA defenders for a 45-yard touchdown with 48 seconds left in the third quarter. Stoughton's extra point fake also failed, making it 14-13.
Stoughton will now face Plymouth South, the winner of the D3 Southeast Bracket, in the D3 State Semifinals.
The game will be Nov. 22 (7 p.m.), at Brockton High School.