C-C fumbles start, recovers to beat N. Andover

LOWELL, Mass. -- It certainly wasn't the start Concord-Carlisle coach Mike Robichaud envisioned.

The Patriots fumbled the ball away on their first two possessions and spotted North Andover a 10-point lead in Tuesday night's playoff game at Cawley Stadium. It was all Concord-Carlisle after that, however.

The Patriots scored on each of their next five possessions and earned a spot in Saturday's Division 2A Super Bowl by posting a 35-16 victory.

"It's not really one of reprimand," Robichaud said when he asked what message he sent to his players when they were facing a 10-point deficit. "The kids - they're not trying to turn the ball over. I think those were good hits and those things happen.

"Obviously there was a lot riding on this playoff game, so we really talk more about confidence than we do correction. Just try to keep the guys up, play your game and don't turn it over again. Fortunately we didn't."

Junior running back George Craan rushed for 162 yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries. He entered the contest with 1,521 yards rushing and 20 touchdowns this season.

"Basically in the first quarter they punched us in the mouth," Craan said. "The big question was, 'How are we going to respond?' I thought my team responded tremendously. We executed."

The Patriots, who raised their record to 10-2, also received 109 yards rushing on five carries from sophomore Tim Badgley. Concord-Carlisle quarterback Peter George scored on a 1-yard run, and completed a 14-yard touchdown pass to Max Barrett.

Robichaud said the offensive line deserved most of the credit for his team's 35-point performance.

"They are very much the underappreciated group on this team," Robichaud said. "George Craan and other backs have been very successful, but it's been because of what's going on up front."

North Andover trailed 20-10 at halftime, and any hope for a comeback evaporated when Concord-Carlisle linebacker Evan Boynton intercepted a Brandon Walsh pass in the end zone with 4:33 left in the third quarter. The interception came on the 16th play of a North Andover drive that moved the ball from its own 26-yard line to the Concord Carlisle 15.

It was the first time a Walsh pass had been intercepted this season.

Four plays later Concord-Carlisle increased its lead when George scored from the 1. The big play in the drive was Badgley's 72-yard run.

Walsh was intercepted again on North Andover's next possession. The Patriots cashed in on that turnover when Craan scored his third touchdown on a 2-yard run. George added the two-point conversion, which gave the Patriots a 35-10 lead with 3:11 to play.

Walsh, who entered the contest with 20 touchdown passes in 10 games, completed 12 of 24 passes for 102 yards. He scored North Andover's first touchdown on a 5-yard run.

The Scarlet Knights also received a 29-yard field goal from John Hufziger, and a 39-yard touchdown run from Jack Murphy. Murphy gained 101 yards on 16 carries.

North Andover, which had won 10 games in a row since opening with a loss to Andover, completed its season with a 10-2 record.

Duxbury is up next for Concord-Carlisle. Duxbury reached the Super Bowl by beating Dennis-Yarmouth, 19-7, Tuesday night.

"We don't really know anything about them, other than their reputation, which is as a very, very solid program," Robichaud said. "We'll start that work tonight as best we can. We'll find out about the X's and O's and go from there."


CC 0 20 7 8 --- 35

NA 10 0 0 6 --- 16

First quarter

N - Brandon Walsh 5 run (John Hufziger kick)

N - FG Hufziger 29

Second quarter

C - George Craan 1 run (Evan Boynton kick)

C - Craan 6 run (Boynton kick)

C -Max Barrett 14 pass from Peter George (kick blocked)

Third quarter

C - George 1 run (Boynton kick)

Fourth quarter

C - Craan 2 run (George rush)

N - Jack Murphy 39 run (rush failed)