CHELMSFORD, Mass. -- Things went from bad to worse quickly for No. 8 Chelmsford team Friday against No. 5 BC High. Gordon McLeod fielded the opening kickoff at his 17-yard line and took it all the way for a touchdown. From there, the rout was on and the Eagles came away with a 35-14 victory.
Chelmsford’s Eddie Sheridan took the next kickoff back 60 yards down to the BC High (2-1) 30, and it seemed like the game might turn into an instant classic. The Lions went four-and-out however, and BC High proceeded to drive 75 yards for another touchdown.
The Lions (2-1) got on the board in the second when Colby Emanouil hit Matt Rabbito from one-yard away, capping off a long, systematic drive down the field to make it 14-6.
Not to be outdone by his teammate, Preston Cooper took the ensuing kickoff back 82 yards for a touchdown, negating the entire Chelmsford drive in one play.
“Me and (Gordon) always talk and joke around in practice and say ‘Oh if you get one, I want to get one,’ so he got one and I said, ‘I’m gonna get one this time,’ and I got one,” said Cooper.
Cooper was also the leading rusher in the game, with 20 carries for 123 yards and a touchdown.
“Preston is a special player,” said BC High coach Jon Bartlett. “He’s a play-maker. You have to give him the football, whether it’s on a kick return, a handoff, or a pass route, he has to touch the ball.”
BC High took a 28-6 lead into the half and never looked back.
Sheridan was the leading rusher for the Lions, with 18 rushes for 103 yards and a touchdown. He was also his teams leading receiver with three catches for 39 yards. His quarterback, Emanouil, had a difficult night through the air. He finished the game 8-of-20 for 71 yards with an interception and a touchdown. It was hard to tell how much, if any, the wet weather contributed to his struggles.
A few other observations from the game:
Running wild: The ground game was so effective for BC High that Regan attempted only one pass in the second half. He ended the game 3-of-10 for 49 yards and a touchdown. After Chelmsford took 6:44 off the clock in the third quarter driving for its second touchdown, the Eagles answered with a 5:53, 70-yard drive that spanned both quarters. When Luke Catarius punched it in to make it 35-14, that was the final nail in the coffin for Chelmsford.
“We saw that they were tired and Coach wanted us to keep pounding them, so that’s what we did and it worked,” said Cooper. “Being conditioned helps. That’s what got us through that whole drive.”
Bulletin board: There was added motivation in the game for BC High. First, the team wanted to avenge its 49-35 loss to DePaul Catholic last week.
“We went down to New Jersey and really didn’t know what to expect,” said Cooper. “But that’s Massachusetts football and that’s New Jersey football. We just had to come out and play hard and that’s what we did. We didn’t do that last week and that’s what happened.”
There was also talk in the days leading up to the game that fueled the BC High fire Friday.
“We heard there was rumors that their quarterback (Emanouil) was guaranteeing victory and all that, but we just put it aside and used it as motivation and we took it out on the field.”
Weathering the storm: It did not appear that way on the scoreboard, but the elements may have helped the Chelmsford offense during the game. On multiple occasions, Emanouil found himself under immense pressure from the BC High defensive line and had to use his feet to escape. On one particular play, he ran what appeared to be 40 yards horizontally in what ended up being only a one-yard gain. Sheridan also found himself in trouble and had to go horizontally to get away from defensive end Adam Richard and others. It appeared they were being assisted by BC High arm tackles, which might be a result of the wet weather on the field Friday.
“It was a combo of everything,” said Bartlett. “We have to get better, we definitely have to get better. That’s part of (Sheridan) being a good back, but maybe part of it was the weather. I don’t know. But we have to be better tackling.”
Lost in transition: Two particular exchanges proved costly for Chelmsford.
In the second quarter, on the first offensive play following Cooper’s kick return touchdown, there was a fumbled handoff between the quarterback and running back, which was recovered by BC High in Chelmsford territory. Then a Chelmsford player was called for a personal foul penalty, bringing BC High closer. On the next play, a defensive lineman jumped offsides, bringing BC high even closer. That made it very easy for Cooper to run eight yards off left tackle for a touchdown.
Then, after getting the ball back late in the quarter, Chelmsford was driving down to its own 25. Emanouil dropped back and looked to throw to a receiver running an out-pattern. That receiver was double-covered and Richard Roach intercepted the pass, ending any hope Chelmsford had of making it a two-score game going into the half.
BC HIGH 35, CHELMSFORD 14
B (2-1) --- 14 14 0 7 - 35
C (2-1) --- 0 6 8 0 - 14
B - Gordon McLeod 83 kick return (Jackson Bockhurst kick)
B - Jameson McShea 10 pass from Bartley Regan (Bockhurst kick)
C - Matt Rabbito 1-yard pass from Colby Emanouil (kick failed)
B - Preston Cooper 82-yard kickoff return (Bockhurst kick)
B - Cooper 4-yard run (Bockhurst kick)
C - Eddie Sheridan 5-yard run (Matt Rabbito run)
B - Luke Catarius 6 run (Bockhurst kick)