HUDSON -- Groton-Dunstable's coaching staff has been talking to its players in the week leading up to the game with Hudson about togetherness and how those teams that stick together will prosper. The Crusaders did just that Friday evening on the road at a chilly Morgan Bowl. Besting the Hudson Hawks for the first time in two seasons, the Crusaders left the Hawks in shellshock, with a 21-0 victory.
The Crusaders enjoyed strong play on both sides of the ball. Groton-Dunstable was paced by signal caller Mack Eberheart (12 carries, 93 yards, one rushing and one passing TD), who continues to impress with his quick-thinking and his ability to execute in crucial situations. The Crusaders got what they wanted, a solid all-around team victory. Hudson falls to 3-3 overall on the season.
Like any good heavyweight battle, the first few rounds are where you begin to figure out what your opponent is really made of. Thus, neither team was able to gain much ground in the first quarter. It was all defense from the get-go, and at the end of the first, the score was tied at 0-0. Groton-Dunstable decided that a defensive game was not what the doctor ordered, and from then on they began to knife through the four-man front the Hawks were presenting. Hudson was sliding their defensive tackles down on the guards, but a solid job in the trenches for the Crusaders handled any and all stunts the Hawks threw their way.
The Groton-Dunstable defense strung together four straight stops in
Matt Manning juked and jived his way into the end zone from 45 yards out with 9:43 remaining in the second quarter to give the Crusaders the lead. The offensive line did a tremendous job clearing the way, and Manning was able to turn on the afterburners, leaving the Hawks to catch their breath. Manning remained on the field to loft the ball into the brisk autumn sky for the PAT, making the score 7-0.
The Crusaders would tack on seven-more points before the halftime whistle, when Eberheart hurled a picturesque spiral right into the outstretched mitts of sophomore wide receiver Drew Moore with 2:34 left in the second quarter, for a 54-yard scamper into the end zone, extending the margin to 14-0. The defense appeared to be thinking that the Crusaders were going to run the ball as they blitzed the cornerbacks and got burned, as Moore was left streaking down the middle of the field towards paydirt. Eberheart's throwing accuracy last Friday night was like that of a skilled marksman.
Eberheart connected with Quintin Forbes (four carries, 98 yards rushing) on third-and-15 in the latter portion of third quarter for a 20-yard reception that set up a Crusaders touchdown. Eberheart would mosey his way across the goal line, stiff-arming a couple of would-be tacklers en route to the end zone, which brought the lead to 21-0. That score would hold up, as Groton-Dunstable improves to 5-1 on the season.
"Eberheart has done a nice job since taking over the quarterback position. We're just coming together at the right time, and hopefully we can keep the thing going," said coach Derek Asadoorian on his quarterback's solid performance Friday evening.
The Crusaders had an opportunity later on in the fourth-quarter to punch in another touchdown for good measure with about 4:30 remaining, but three straight unsportsmanlike conduct penalties forced them to turnover the ball on downs. The Hawks would try and kill the Crusaders' defense's shutout with around 2:20 remaining in the game, but Moore came up with a tremendous interception on the 3 yard line. Groton-Dunstable's defense was able to cling on to their shutout, and stymie the rush/pass attack by Hudson's Dan Mendes.
"It was a great win for us. I thought both teams played really well defensively. We were lucky enough to get it in the end zone a few times. Certainly Hudson didn't make it easy on us," said Asadoorian. "It was definitely a defensive struggle. I don't think the score is indicative of how close the game was. I am proud of my guys fighting for the win."
The Crusaders have outscored opponents in their last two games by a combined margin of 56-6. Assadorian and his staff have to be very pleased with how the team has responded following their 42-6 loss to Westford Academy just two-weeks ago.