North Andover Scarlet Knights Football '18

Fri, Nov 09, 2018 07:00 PM @ North Andover
Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Lincoln/Sudbury 0 0 0 0 0
North Andover 14 14 7 7 42

North Andover wins Division 2 North crown, earns title game berth

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Friday, November, 09 By David Willis
Staff writer

NORTH ANDOVER — Gabe DeSouza could not fight back the tears of joy that ran down his face as he stood, overcome with emotion, celebrating on the Walsh Stadium turf.
“This is unreal,” said DeSouza, wiping away tears. “This is the greatest moment of my life. Everything that happened to me, all the struggles, changed my life. And it has all paid off now.”
A season ago, DeSouza left the Division 2 North title game in an ambulance, after suffering a life-threatening heart arrhythmia.
A year later, on Friday, he and his North Andover teammates left the field as champions.
On the third play of the game, DeSouza intercepted a pass and ran it back 24 yards for a touchdown. It was all North Andover from there, as the top-seeded Scarlet Knights surged to the Division 2 North crown with a dominant 42-0 victory over No. 2 Lincoln-Sudbury.
North Andover fell to Lincoln-Sudbury in the North title game last fall.
“I’m the happiest man on Earth right now,” said Knights tri-captain Darren Watson. “This was the revenge tour. This was the biggest game of our lives. We’ve worked four years for this, and to be here is the best feeling.”
The win sends North Andover (10-0) to the Division 2 state championship game at Gillette Stadium, where they will play South champ King Philip (8-2). The game will be played on either Nov. 30 or Dec. 1.
It is the first North title for the Knights since beating Haverhill for the crown in 2014. They then lost in the now-defunct Division 2 state semifinal.
“It’s crazy,” said running back Freddy Gabin. “We saw what (the North final) was like last year. So we had this all planned out. Coach (John Dubzinski) laid out the blueprints. We got after it, and we got it done.”
With rain pouring from the opening kickoff, North Andover set the tone right away.
On the third play of the contest, DeSouza jumped a route and cruised into the end zone for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead just 1:06 into play.
“That play turned the game,” said Gabin. “Once I saw him pick off the pass and go into the end zone, I knew we were going to win.”
After a Warrior 3-and-out, Watson took North Andover’s first offensive play and broke a 67-yard run. A play later, QB Jake McElroy ran in a 3-yard score, and the Scarlet Knights were rolling.
“I saw the hole and hit it,” said Watson, who finished with 80 yards rushing and 103 yards receiving. “The guys gave me a big hole to run through, and I took it.”
After another 3-and-out and a blocked punt, Gabin sprinted in for his first of three touchdowns, an 11-yard score.
Watson then made it 28-0 at halftime, taking screen pass from McElroy and breaking free for a 51-yard touchdown.
Lincoln-Sudbury only threatened twice, both late in the first half. 
The Warriors advanced to the Knights’ 39-yard line, but defensive lineman Charlie Regan knocked the ball out of the QB’s hands, and it was recovered by Thomas Vance. 
Lincoln-Sudbury later made it to the North Andover 14. But Keegan Hardacre and Mike Roche each had a sack to force a turnover on downs. 
North Andover continued to dominate in the second half, with Gabin adding touchdowns of 10 and 9 yards. The Knights did not punt once.
DeSouza (two interceptions) led a North Andover defense that allowed just 153 yards of offense, 76 of those in the second half with the game well in hand.
Vance added six tackles, Ryan Slattery had eight stops and Watson had five tackles.
“Everything was working on defense,” said DeSouza. “Our line was getting pressure, our linebackers were doing their job and we were shutting it down in the secondary.”
North Andover now has its eyes set on Gillette Stadium and the chance to win a state title.
“I can’t wait!” said DeSouza. “I can’t wait to play at Gillette. It’s a dream come true. It will be amazing.” 

Game Statistics:

First Quarter

NA — Gabe DeSouza 24 interception return (DeSouza kick), 9:54

NA — Jake McElroy 3 run (DeSouza kick), 5:58 

Second Quarter

NA — Freddy Gabin 5 run (DeSouza kick), 8:35

NA — Watson 51 pass from McElroy (DeSouza kick), 5:00

Third Quarter

NA — Gabin 10 run (DeSouza kick), 7:15

Fourth Quarter

NA — Gabin 9 run (DeSouza kick), 4:14



RUSHING: North Andover (30-251) — Darren Watson 2-80, Freddy Gabin 10-72, Jake McElroy 9-38, Mike Difo 5-37, J.D. Allen 4-24; Lincoln-Sudbury (24-) —  James Dillon 4-44, Kyle Smith 6-6, Alex Kellen 3-20, Evan Coughlin 1-6, Derek Tang 1-6, Gordon Gozdeck 1-5, Braden O'Connell 8-(-12)

PASSING: North Andover — McElroy 4-7-0, 129; Lincoln-Sudbury — O'Connell 7-26-2, 78, Dillon 0-1-0, Charles Cavanaugh 0-1-0

RECEIVING: North Andover — Watson 2-103, Jack Walsh 1-14, Gabe DeSouza 1-12; Lincoln-Sudbury — Matt Cunningham 2-24, Cam Anderegg 2-22, Dillon 1-24, Milind Lele 1-12, Smith 1-(-4)

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