GROTON -- Friday the 13th is a day when things are not supposed to go your way. For the Groton-Dunstable Crusaders, it could not have gone any better.
On the surface, the evening appeared to have all the makings of a defensive showdown. But head coach Derek Asadoorian's Crusaders had other plans.
At the end of the half, the two teams were separated by a single point, at 7-6. Something changed in the third-quarter when the Groton-Dunstable Crusaders scored three touchdowns to ultimately down the Wildcats 28-6, at Groton-Dunstable Regional High School.
"They were playing us man-to-man, and we tried to stretch them out by using the run game more," Asadoorian said. "Once we got the run game going, that kind of opened up the pass."
Opened up the pass indeed, as senior quarterback Quentin Forbes threw six-of-11 for 118 yards and 2 TDs in his first varsity game under center. However, Forbes' contributions were not limited on offense. Forbes locked up an interception at safety in the third-quarter as well.
"I think they handled us very well in the second half," Gardner head coach Walter Dubzinski said. "The turning point of the second half was when they marched right down the field and put another one up on us. Up front, we got outplayed a little bit. I give them all the credit in the world. They (G-D) did a great job."
A botched Gardner punt snap led to a Crusaders' touchdown, when junior wide receiver Drew Moore pounced on the ball in the end zone to put the Crusaders out in front, 7-0, with 6:21 remaining in the second quarter.
Gardner's lone touchdown was set-up nicely on a 17-yard dash by senior captain and running back, Jake Shetrawski. Shetrawski marched the ball down toward the goal-line, and short-yardage back, Peter Gallant did the rest.
Gallant bounced the ball inside and off left tackle for the two-yard score with 21 seconds remaining in the half. Dubzinski called for a fake point-after attempt but it was stopped in the backfield. Junior quarterback Matthew Seward rolled out to the left in an offset formation and was met by a host of Groton-Dunstable defenders. It was a tight one heading into the second half, but not for long.
"Mentally, to be winning at half-time is a huge advantage," Asadoorian said. "It doesn't matter how huge the lead is. To say you won that first half is a victory right there. All you have to do is win the second half, and it's over. "
It took Groton-Dunstable just two plays to march across the goal line early in the third quarter. Forbes rolled out to his left and scampered 25 yards to pay-dirt to put the Crusaders up 14-6 with 10:21 remaining in the third.
Eight minutes later, Groton-Dunstable struck again. This time Forbes rolled out to his right and placed a perfectly timed bullet to Joey Stewart for a 19-yard touchdown strike. Stewart elevated nicely. He secured the ball and displayed great concentration by getting his feet in-bounds to extend Groton-Dunstable's lead to 21-6.
At the end of the quarter, Forbes hooked up with Moore for a 32-yard bomb down the right sideline to put the game well out of reach of the Wildcats.
"Defensively, everyone is contributing," Asadoorian said. "I couldn't single out anybody. I thought our linebackers Joey Orlando, Ronnie Peck and Shane Dawson did a good job inside, reading and pursuing.
"But the key is that our quarterback on offense is our quarterback on defense," he said. "He is communicating to our guys and getting our guys in the right spot. I thought our guys played really aggressive." G-D hosts Hudson tonight at 7 p.m.