TOWNSEND -- Junior North Middlesex quarterback John Boutwell had a nice little combination of Tom Brady's pocket presence and Tim Tebow's scrambling ability Friday night, as the host Patriots defeated Westborough (0-2), 26-19, at John E. Young Memorial Field.
North Middlesex (1-1) proved it can hang with the big boys after last week's loss at then No. 3-ranked Doherty.
Last Friday night, Sandy Ruggles' boys came to play.
"Boutwell looked like Johnny Tebow out there," North Middlesex head coach Ruggles joked. "In the second half, we turned it over to him."
Boutwell's primary target was Tyler MacDonald. MacDonald hauled in a pair of touchdowns finishing the night with eight catches for 137 yards. Boutwell was 9 of 13 passing for 178 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Junior North Middlesex running back, Tyler Zech, rushed for 16 carries for 87 yards. Westborough got on the board first early in the first quarter via a field goal by kicker Jack Chuma. Trailing 3-0 midway through the first, Boutwell marched his team down the field 85 yards, setting up an 11-yard touchdown reception by MacDonald.
MacDonald took off down the near sideline. Boutwell sidestepped a Westborough blitzer and hit his receiver in the back corner of the end zone, to put the Patriots up 7-3 with 10:47 remaining in the second quarter.
Three minutes later, Westborough quarterback Dan Orlando (4-of-15, 65 yards, 1 TD) led his team inside the Patriots' red zone. Orlando muscled his way into the end zone to put his team out in front, 10-7, after Chuma connected on the extra point.
North Middlesex had a pair of chances late in the second quarter to punch at least one more touchdown before the half, but two fumbles inside its own 20 caused the opportunity to go by the boards.
Westborough, 10-7, is where it would stand as the two teams took to the locker room at half-time.
North Middlesex received to start the second half and Boutwell guided his troops 66 yards to pay-dirt in just nine plays. With 7:41 remaining in the third, Boutwell dished the ball off to Zech for a two-yard bruiser of a touchdown to make it 14-10, Patriots.
The Patriots defense held the line on the ensuing Rangers' drive, shutting them down on fourth and inches inside their own 40-yard-line. That is when Boutwell stole the show. Boutwell ran the ball on seven out of nine plays on the Patriots' scoring drive.
On the drive, Boutwell rushed for 54 yards on nine carries. Boutwell called his own number down inside the Westborough five-yard-line. Boutwell dove up the gut to pick up the touchdown and extend the Patriots' lead to 20-10.
On the ensuing Westborough possession, the North Middlesex defense came up with a huge stop. Two-way senior, Dylan Woods, blitzed in from his linebacker spot and stripped Westborough running back Mike Heffernan. Woods pounced on the fumble, as the Patriots took over on the Westborough 38-yard line.
Boutwell (14 carries, 75 yards, 1 TD) connected with MacDonald on a 13-yard bomb down the sideline. Woods rumbled his way down to the one-yard-line, but could not stretch the extra yard for the score. On third-and-goal, he would get a second chance.
This time, Woods would not be denied. The senior back muscled his way into the end zone to push the Pats' lead to 26-10. Ruggles instructed his special teams unit to try and put the game out of reach with a two-point try.
But the flip by Boutwell was intercepted by Westborough senior Kyle LeMack. LeMack turned on the afterburners and housed the interception for two points, making it a two-possession game with 8:59 left in regulation.
Leading 26-12 midway through the fourth quarter, the Patriots appeared to be in complete control of their own destiny.
Matt Wheeler's kick was returned 65 yards by Heffernan. The long return by Heffernan put the Rangers in prime scoring position on the Patriots' 12-yard line. Orlando dropped back and fired a bullet across the middle of the end zone to senior back Mike Gallo with 7:20 left in the game.
North Middlesex stormed down to the Westborough's four-yard line on its next possession, but came up short on fourth and inches. Westborough was not going to back down quietly.
Gallo collected a 34-yard post pass from Orlando to pit Westborough on the North Middlesex 40-yard line with 1:31 remaining. While North Middlesex had a bit of a scare late in the game, it held its ground. Junior defensive back, Josh Atwood, made a pair of nice pass breakups in the secondary to seal the game for the Patriots. North Middlesex returns to the gridiron tonight when it faces the Algonquin at 7 p.m.