GROTON -- When the Crusaders took to Stadium Field last Friday, the team had their minds' set on a win after suffering a loss to the Westford Grey Ghosts the previous weekend. Groton-Dunstable ended up dominating play over the Clinton Gales, with more than 400 rushing yards accounting in the 35-7 final.
The Gales couldn't seem to overcome the Crusader defense, as they were unable to total over 50 rushing yards, with Jake Hatch scoring their only touchdown in the last quarter.
"I felt confident. We had a good week at practice," said Groton-Dunstable football coach Derek Asadoorian. "This is our first time beating Clinton. This is a very big win for us. Clinton is always at the top of the Central Mass Division."
At the start of the first half, Mack Eberhardt scored the game's first touchdown coming off of a 10-yard rush, with Corey Romich getting an extra point with the kick.
Clinton's Kyle Cutler made an attempt to get into the end zone as quick as possible by throwing long passes to Matt Nataro. Groton-Dunstable's Matt Manning got a 25-yard run, bringing the ball to their 35 yard line. At first-and-10, Joey Steward got a 65-yard touchdown, bringing the score to 14-0 before the end of the first half.
In an effort to get some points on the board, Clinton notched a five-yard gain by Nataro. Facing pressure from the Crusader defense, Cutler made a blind pass. Unable to gain 10 yards, the Gales punted the ball to the Crusader 41.
As the second quarter began, Groton-Dunstable took control of the ball. Manning took the ball all the way from his own 38 yard line down to the second goal line, where he was taken down by the Gale defense. At second-and-goal, Manning scored a two-yard touchdown with the score set at 27-0.
Cutler and Matt McEvilly made significant plays, gaining a total of 15 yards between the two of them. But as Cutler made a pass to Nataro, Groton-Dunstable's Ben Butler intercepted. From his own 29 yard line, Butler made a 25-yard run, allowing them to hold the blowout over Clinton.
As the second half began, the Crusaders started out with the ball at the 20 yard line. Eberhardt threw a pass to Manning and gained 15 yards. But both teams picked up on the defense, preventing either team from achieving any large yard gains through the third quarter.
Even though it was clear that they would win this game, the Crusaders wanted to cap off the game with another touchdown. Finding themselves at third-and-ten, Eberhardt passed the ball to Manning, who got the fourth and final touchdown for the Crusaders off of 47 rushing yards.
Focused on getting at least one touchdown before the game was over, Clinton made a five-yard gain from their own 45 to bring the ball up to the 50. Nataro made a pass to Hatch, who carried the ball all the way into the end zone, with the two-point conversion following.
"Although we fumbled the ball, I am really proud of the team. We were able to capitalize on our mistakes," said Asadoorian. "A great practice matters. We need to get this thing rolling, something special could happen. We play a rival next week, Hudson, and we are looking to continue with our success."