The Patriots put a damper on the Westborough High School Homecoming festivities as they downed the Rangers (0-5), 34-31 in overtime. A 25-carry, 128-yard rushing performance by senior halfback Brandon Lambert helped spur the Patriots to their second win of the season. Dylan Woods would pitch in with a 13-carry, 141-yard performance of his own, with two touchdowns in the victory.
A strong contingent of diehard North Middlesex fans made the journey to see the Pats pick up the win.
The Rangers would get on the board first on a 7-yard scamper by junior Kevin Sanders as he crossed the end zone to paydirt, giving Westborough the 7-0 advantage with 5:00 remaining in the first.
Westborough would opt to squib the kickoff after the touchdown, and the ball was muffed by Joe Dolciotto (three catches, 103 yards, 2 TDS), but the Patriots would recover at their own 4-yard line. Senior running back Dylan Woods would bail Dolciotto out 21 seconds later, when he raced down the left sideline into the end zone for a 96-yard touchdown, his fourth of the season, with 4:49 left in the first quarter.
At 9:31 in the second quarter, Westborough reclaimed the lead on a 53-yard dash by quarterback Dan Orlando off the left side to give the Rangers a 14-7 lead, following the PAT by Jack Chuma.
The Patriots defense had their big hiccup in the third quarter, when they allowed the Rangers to complete a 75-yard touchdown drive. Anthony Phillips rumbled from the left hash for an 8-yard touchdown run to put Westborough out in front by a score of 21-7.
Phillips would finish the day for the Rangers with two touchdowns on 16 carries for 141 yards.
The Patriots concluded the third quarter starting to turn the corner after going down 14. North Middlesex's drive began on their own 39-yard line with 1:13 left in the third. Time would expire on the quarter, as sophomore quarterback John Boutwell (6 of 10, 170 yards, TD) connected for 18 yards on a seam route down the sideline to Bryan Croteau.
Going into the fourth quarter, a different North Middlesex team emerged. This time they were running the no-huddle in an attempt to tire the Rangers.
Lambert took off down the left sideline for a touchdown on a halfback sweep that was later called back on a hold. Pats would continue to drive, and capped it off on a 1-yard smash by Woods for his second TD of the game to make it 21-13.
The Patriots defense came out and was a totally different animal out front, forcing Westborough into a four-and-out. Boutwell dialed up an 82-yard laser to Dolciotto that sent Patriots fans into a frenzy, shaving the lead to 21-19. Coach Sandy Ruggles knew what he needed to do, and opted to go for the two-point conversion. Boutwell would keep it himself, and cut his way up the middle to complete the conversion, tying the game at 21-21 with 7:21 left in the ball game.
Lambert and the North Middlesex offensive attack were far from done. Lambert crossed the goal line for the second time Saturday afternoon on an 8-yard run off the right side to give the Pats the 28-21 lead with 1:34 left in the game.
North Middlesex's defense tried to dig deep and keep the lead but faltered, allowing Phillips to break free off the left side for his second rushing touchdown of the game, this time from 25 yards out with 53 seconds left to tie the game at 28-28.
The Pats won the overtime coin toss and elected to defend. Westborough couldn't find the end zone, but their Chuma clanged a 35-yard field goal off the upright and through to give the Rangers a 31-28 lead.
North Middlesex had their chance from the 10-yard line and made the most of it, giving the Rangers a steady dose of Woods and Lambert. Lambert would eventually mosey into the end zone on a 2-yard touchdown reception for the 34-31 win.
"There was no quit today, and that is the biggest area we improved," said Ruggles postgame. "It was truly a great team victory, together everyone achieves more ... and I think they understand that."