By Ryan Lanigan, Editor-in-Chief
QUINCY, Mass – Just as the final seconds of the first half ticked away, Oliver Ames came up a yard short of taking a lead into the break.
With North Quincy getting the first possession of the second half the Red Raiders had a chance to capitalize on the momentum it gained from its big stop to end to first frame.
Instead, Oliver Ames stole that momentum back when senior Kevin Geary made the first of two huge plays in the second half. North Quincy elected to go for it on 4th and 1 on their own 35 but Geary ended up in the backfield and with the help of a host of Tigers, brought quarterback Joe Fallon down for a turnover on downs.
Four plays later, Oliver Ames found the back of the end zone to take the lead and never looked back in a 26-15 win over North Quincy.
“That was huge,” Oliver Ames first year head coach Mike Holland said. “It was a battle in the first half and we went in and talked about some things we needed to improve on like tackling and eliminating penalties. The kids came out and responded, set the tone for the second half and change the momentum to a big credit to our kids.”
After the turnover on downs, Liston Funai (14 carries, 144 yards, 3 touchdowns) scampered up the middle for 13 and then four more. After quarterback Charlie Ryan (4/10, 45 yards, 14 carries, 90 yards, 1 touchdown) took an option run for five yards, Funai burst up the middle for a nine yard touchdown on third down to put OA up 12-7 midway through the third quarter.
The Tigers had to punt on their first drive but the defense came up big when senior Connor Maroney picked off Fallon and ran it back 30 yards. OA used just four plays to cover the distance when Ryan used the option to take it in himself for a nine yard score.
“It’s terrific, both of those guys have worked hard all year and they’re getting better and better,” Holland said of Ryan and Funai. “The scheme from the line, they’re understanding the concepts and working together to open up holes. Charlie can run the ball and pass the ball effectively and Liston is a young kid that’s getting more and more confident as he gets experience.”
North Quincy tied the game in the second quarter taking advantage of a short field. It took just five plays to move 31 yards before Aidan Brown (25 carries, 130 yards) punched it in from a yard out.
Oliver Ames kept the pressure on in the second half, forcing punts on the next two drives from the Red Raiders following the turnover on downs. Funai ran 12 yards to end the third quarter and then on the first play of the fourth quarter, he dashed 45 yards with a score and ran it in for a two point conversion to make it 20-7.
Three straight incompletions from Fallon meant another punt from the Red Raiders but OA gifted possession right back with a fumble. However, Geary came up with his second big play of the half on third down. Fallon dropped back to pass but didn’t have many options and Geary came from the blind side and laid a huge hit, forcing the ball free that senior Shawn Cardoza pounded on.
“That was huge,” Holland said. “We talk all the time about plus/minus and creating turnovers. Those set the offense up in a good predicament. On that fumble, Travis [Campbell] played it excellent to make the quarterback step up and [Shawn] Cardoza contained him and Geary came in and had a heck of a hit.”
One play later, Funai went up the middle for a 14 yard touchdown and Oliver Ames extended its lead to 26-7. With mostly second string in, North Quincy added a touchdown in the final minute.
After starting the season winless, the Tigers have now won back to back games heading into Thanksgiving, when they’ll travel to rival Sharon to conclude the season.
“These guys have been awesome, the coaching staff has been plugging away trying to finish on a positive note and send the seniors out the right way,” Holland said. “We want to lead into the offseason on a positive note and the kids have been great.”