READING, Mass. -- Almost as soon as the Dracut defense was called for an offsides on the would-be game-tying point after, it seemed, did Reading head coach John Fiore want a timeout. Four minutes left, down by one but now with the ball at the one, Rockets offensive coordinator Duane Sigsbury drew up a Tebow-like play that had everyone on the sideline feeling fired up.
"Let's go for it, can't second-guess it," said their 6-foot-4 senior quarterback Brian Bourque (he is a converted wideout, after all).
"Let's get these six inches and take it to Gillette," said senior right tackle Jeff Covitz.
Sigsbury called for a quarterback dive out of a goal-line shotgun formation with jumbo personnel, but rather than crouch low and try to fall forward, Bourque leaped high into the air and flopped into the end zone, sending the home-field crowd into a frenzy.
That still left Dracut with two more scoring chances, but in those final four minutes Covitz was relentless coming off the edge of the right-handed Matt Silva's front side. He recorded two sacks, including one on fourth down, to seal the 15-14 win, make it 25 straight victories for the Rockets, and send them back to Gillette Stadium to defend their Division 2 Super Bowl title against Hockomock League juggernaut Mansfield.
Fiore spoke only briefly to the media following the game, but with good intents. Draping his outstretched arms on the shoulders of his three captains -- Bourque, Covitz and Anthony Fodera -- he deferred all the credit to them and gave them the utmost praise.
"All summer long, these three guys leading everybody in the weight room, you know, doing their plyos, flipping the tires, working the 7-on-7's, playing sports together...this is just an awesome effort," Fiore beamed. "I'm so proud of them, so I'm going to let them talk, because this is their night."
And with the spotlight, Covitz deferred to late assistant coach Mike Boyd, who passed away at 29 in July of 2009 to lung cancer, and nearly a year and half later is still fresh on the team's mind. A plaque of Boyd, who won two Super Bowls during his time at Reading, still hangs in the team's locker room.
"He never quit," Covitz said, still catching his breath. "Up until the day he died, he never quit. I always think about Coach Boyd. Even when I'm exhausted, and just want to pass out right on the field, you never quit on this team. You never want to quit on your family. You never quit on coaches."
And to say the least, Covitz's shoulder was to the wheel those last four minutes, as the Middies (8-4) had two more chances to score and were stopped on both. Keith Hamel took a zone read handoff 55 yards down the right sideline on the first play of the drive following Bourque's leap, giving the Middies first and 10 at the Reading 25 with over three and a half minutes to play. But Silva was stuffed up the middle by Covitz, and watched as a perfect pass over the middle was bobbled incomplete to set up fourth and 15. Coming off the edge of Silva's front side, Covitz ripped the outside arm of his blocker and planted Silva in the turf with a textbook form tackle.
A three-and-out by Reading (12-0) gave Dracut the ball again with a minute to go and a starting drive at its own 41. After two incompletions, Silva was planted squarely in the turf again from Covitz in the same fashion. Silva then threw an incompletion on fourth.
"I've got to tip my hat to Silva," Covitz said. "Silva's an amazing player, quick in the pocket, we tried to contain him all night. I just made my way outside, and just found my way to the quarterback."
Silva, who came into the game as one of the leading scorers in Eastern Mass with 12 rushing touchdowns and 26 touchdown passes (22 to his favorite target Chris Malonis), showed throughout the game why he is one of region's the toughest quarterbacks to bring down. While on other nights it was throwing his 170-pound frame around like it was 250, on this night it was his scrambling ability when flushed out of the pocker that made him such a threat. He ended up with 82 yards passing and 92 rushing, with two touchdown passes -- both to Malonis.
The master stroke came with 4:03 left in the ballgame, when he slipped to his left and threw an off-balanced floater off his back foot as he was backpedaling away from the blitzing Troy Jones. Malonis came back to the near left pylon and, with his arms calmly oustretched by his waist, hauled in the underthrown ball and just managed to get both feet inbounds.
Bourque (129 yards passing, 67 rushing) came roaring back with a gutsy game-winning drive that was, quite frankly, all in his hands. His first four plays were all short strikes to Sean Gildea and Connor Sheehan, before calling his number three straight times. On third and one from the Dracut 29, Bourque tossed another short sideline strike to Gildea. Three plays later, Bourque capped the 11-play drive with an eight-yard scamper up the middle, setting up the heroics on the point-after.
READING 15, DRACUT 14
DRA 0 7 0 7 --- 14
REA 7 0 0 8 --- 15
R - Larry Gilligan 37 run (Nick Scali kick) 7:19
D - Chris Malonis 8 pass from Matt Silva (Silva kick) 5:50
D - Malonis 17 pass from Silva (Silva kick) 8:40
R - Brian Bourque 7 run (Bourque kick) 4:03