FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Even by the mile-high expectations that the Marshfield Rams had set for themselves this season, Saturday’s 45-6 win over Longmeadow in the Div. 2 Championship was impressive.
The Rams had won 11 straight games following an opening week loss to Boston College High, looking more and more impressive each week. But the Rams saved their best effort for the big stage that Gillette Stadium had to offer, opening up a 39-0 halftime lead and outgaining the Lancers 385-191 on the afternoon to capture their first championship title since 2009.
“It’s been amazing, the work we put into it with the seniors, I think we deserved it,” Rams quarterback Jack Masterson said. “The highs are never to high and the lows are never too low.”
The Lancers couldn’t keep pace with the size and strength of the Rams offensive line and it showed early. Behind center Shane Leonard and offensive linemen Matt Benson and Josh Ramos, Marshfield broke five runs of more than 20 yards in the opening half, and punched in five touchdowns, all on the ground to build a massive first half lead.
“We are very fortunate to have some good kids up front and an excellent offensive line coach and he’s worked very well,” Marshfield coach Lou Silva said. “The kids up front they just want to run the ball and be physical.”
In addition to searching for a way to stop the Rams offense, the Lancers’ first half went from bad to worse. Marshfield forced three turnovers, highlighted by two interceptions from Kyle Meeken, including a catch-of-the-year candidate. With less than three minutes in the first quarter and Meeken in single coverage, the junior leaped up and came down with a one-handed catch for the game’s first turnover.
The combination of turnovers and the dominant Rams rushing attack allowed Marshfield to hold onto the ball for 12:32 in the first half, taking a toll on the Lancers front seven.
“I think we really just dominated them up front, what we are used to just keep pounding,” Leonard said. “We saw some of their kids breathing heavy and constantly changing from going both ways.”
Masterson led the attack, breaking out a pair of 47-yard runs and two touchdowns while Adam McNamara, Jacob Maher and Frank Catanoso also finding pay dirt.
“I cannot give enough credit to the offensive line,” Masterson said. “I owe them something, I need to buy them food or something they have been huge.”
From worst to first: Three years ago, then freshman Jack Masterson was thrown into the starting quarterback position before the offense took the first snap.
Despite their 0-11 record that season, the Rams had a silver lining in Masterson. The freshman broke passing records his first year and led the Rams to a playoff berth his sophomore year entering his junior campaign.
“He had confidence that very first year we threw him into the fire and he showed some sparks last year,” Silva said of his quarterback. “He’s grown a little bit and put on some speed so it’s the whole mental aspect of the game that he’s better at.”
Now three years after that season Marshfield would like to forget, it was Masterson that led the Rams back to glory. In the first half alone, Masterson ran for 107 yards while completing another three passes for 42 yards, all to tight end Danny Dalton.
“Oh he’s scary, I’m just glad he plays for us because I wouldn’t want to play against him,” Silva joked. “He’s developing as not only a good passer but a good runner.”
Emphasis on early scoring: Going up against a solid running team like Longmeadow, the Rams knew the importance on not allowing an early lead.
“That was our goal to start strong because we knew that Longmeadow could grind the clock out,” Dalton said. If they got the lead they wouldn’t give it up so to jump out 39-0 was huge.”
The Rams took the opening drive of the game 72 yards on just six plays, highlighted by a Masterson scramble of 47 yards to take the early lead.
After forcing a fumble on the ensuing Longmeadow drive, the Rams punched in another scoring drive, a one-yard run by Masterson to take a 16-0 lead.
With a large lead in hand, the Rams feasted on the Longmeadow offense. Sean Burger and Fred Allen led a swarming defense that pitched a shutout until the closing minute of the game.
Blessing in disguise: The only blemish on the Rams schedule this season was an opening week loss to B.C. High, a game which Silva believes they had in hand and let slip away.
“Losing that first game to BC High put a real damper because we had that game won and gave it away,” said Silva. “So from that first game the message was don’t give away chances, take advantage and finish.”
From that point on, the Rams tore off 11 straight wins and looked good doing so. Every game during that stretch was won by two-plus possessions until their comeback Thanksgiving Day victory over Duxbury.
“That [B.C. High loss] was huge, looking back at it we wanted the win really bad but we were trying to find our identity what kind of team we were going to be this year and I think we found out,” Masterson said.
Marshfield 45, Longmeadow 6
M-Jacob Maher 5 rush (Jack Masterson rush, 8:07.
M-Masterson 1 rush (Mitch Bishop pass from Masterson), 3:58
M-Adam McNamara 25 rush (Dalton Dalton pass from Masterson), 7:02
M-Masterson 47 rush (Masterson rush), 3:20
M-Frank Catonoso 4 rush (Pat Kielty kick), 1:08
M-Maher 25 rush (kick fail), :34
L- Noah Hurwitz 12 rush (kick fail), 1:04