WESTWOOD, Mass. -- Saturday’s 31-14 win by No. 2 Duxbury football over Xaverian proved something to Dragons head coach Dave Maimaron.
There’s no secret behind Duxbury’s prolific offense, or their shut-down defense. Or the plethora of Division 1 recruits they have, for that matter; have you happened to hear that the town is lacrosse crazy?
No, it wasn’t any of those things everyone has come to know. Instead, Maimaron found out that his team can deal with adversity.
For the first time this season, the Dragons trailed in a game. With time winding down in the third quarter, the No. 4 Hawks took a 14-10 lead on Austin DeCarr’s second touchdown pass.
Then, Duxbury (5-0) responded.
“We haven’t really faced much [adversity] this season so far,” Maimaron said, “… the kids stayed focused and were able to execute down the stretch.”
Dragons quarterback Matt O’Keefe hit Reilly Naton on their first of two touchdown connections on the first play of the fourth quarter. After forcing the Hawks (4-1) three-and-out, the Johns Hopkins lacrosse commit then coolly led Duxbury downfield again on two plays with Naton hauling in a 63-yard pass on a hitch-and-go route for a 24-14 Dragon lead with 8:15 remaining.
“We knew they were going to be reading our screen game, we knew that [coming in],” said O’Keefe, who had the Xaverian defense fooled on a pump fake. “They just bit on that. We put that in in practice a couple weeks ago and it came up big.”
O’Keefe finished completing 16 of 26 attempts for 222 yards and two touchdowns. He also added 76 hard-fought yards on 14 carries.
Naton (2 TDs, INT, 2 TFL) capped a spectacular second half picking off DeCarr with 3:43 to play.
Any opposing coach looking over Xaverian film this season will have the Hawks’ defensive line at the top of the list of things to stop. And contending with the big bodies of Maurice Hurst Jr., Kevin Painten and Colby Enegren up front, that’s no small task.
For the most part, save for a stretch of the second quarter, the Dragons won the battle of the lines with tackle Gordon Acha and guard Rob Kosharek minimizing the pass rush.
“Their D-line is excellent,” Maimaron said. “Hurst is a beast and their two D-ends, unfortunately one of them got hurt early … but they brought some kids in who played great.
“But they’re really good. O’Keefe took some licks today, but he keeps getting up. He’s just a tough kid and he kept fighting. The whole team kept fighting all day long.”
Sure, the Hawks got theirs with Hurst tallying a sack and two tackles for loss and Painten adding a sack of his own. But the Dragons’ line bought just enough time for O’Keefe to operate in the pocket.
“Our motto is that if you mess up this play, just get ready for the next play,” Acha said. “Don’t think about the past, only think about the future. You just keep on going.”
Aside from his fourth-quarter interception, DeCarr played well in his second straight start, filling in for Chris Calvanese.
DeCarr, a flame-throwing pitcher for the Hawks baseball team, completed 12 of 25 attempts for 199 yards and two touchdowns, including a lazer beam to Mike Warren on a 10-yard post.
“That was his fastball,” Xaverian head coach Charlie Stevenson said of DeCarr’s second touchdown pass. “I was more worried that we’d have someone to catch it more than if he could get it in there."
Stevenson added, “He did some really good things. I think that the touchdown pass to D.J. [Pagliuca] was a gem. And the touchdown pass to Warren on the backside post was a bullet."
WE GOT YOU COVERED
Xaverian mixed up their looks against the Duxbury offense, playing a dash of man, quarters and some Cover-3. It was all in an effort to keep O’Keefe and his receivers honest.
“We tried to change up our looks and where we were coming with our pressure, trying to confuse their quarterback,” Stevenson said. “Obviously, he’s a real good one.
“Sometimes we were successful, other times we weren’t and gave up big plays. We knew that we would try to pressure him, but when you do that, you take risks in the secondary and it worked for us for a while, but they hit on some big plays, too.”
Likewise, the Dragons made some in-game adjustments after a 70-yard scoring connection from DeCarr to Pagliuca.
“We had the coverage to play it and we should’ve had it,” Duxbury safety James Burke said, “but the corner and I mis-communicated that we were going to play more of a zone, or a man, but I was playing a combo and he was playing man. So when my guy wheeled, with his guy coming in, it left obviously a gaping hole.”
During halftime, the Dragons’ secondary huddled to fix their communication problems and things tightened up in the second half.
“We said, this is what we’re doing, once somebody calls it, that’s what we’re doing,” said Burke, who had a key fumble recovery, setting up the game-winning score. “So then after that, we were not second-guessing ourselves.”