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Vikings come up just short in a classic



Dean Tech 36

Nashoba Tech 34

’We were 2-9 last season but our kids learned to believe in themselves, to work hard and to prepare to win.’ – Jim Tansey, Nashoba Tech head football coach

WORCESTER — Championship games are often disappointments, but Thursday’s Massachusetts Vocation Championship Football Small Division game between Nashoba Tech and Dean Tech was anything but. The game had a little bit of everything in it and when the smoke had cleared Dean escaped with a hard-fought 36-34 win.

The game was actually three games in one.

Nashoba Tech bolted out of the gate and established 14 point, first half leads at 14-0 and 22-8.

Dean Tech used the final two minutes of the first half and the third quarter to score 22 unanswered points to take a 30-22 lead into the final quarter.

That final quarter was tense throughout as Nashoba Tech battled back with two

consecutive touchdowns to grab the lead, only to see Dean Tech mount a clutch winning drive to pull the contest out.

“Our kids gave it everything they had and we just came up two points short,” said Nashoba Tech head coach Jim Tansey. “We were 2-9 last season but our kids learned to believe in themselves, to work hard and to prepare to win. They really fought hard, but I tip my cap to Dean Tech. They answered on that last drive to win the game.”

Dean Tech received the opening kickoff and were stuffed by the Nashoba Tech defense. On third-and-four, Jestin McMahon and Evan Greathead combined to stop talented halfback Carlos Garcia two yards short of a first down, forcing a punt.

Greathead fielded the punt and blazed down the right sideline 60 yards for a touchdown, and when Steve Modica added the conversion kick, the Vikings led 7-0 with 7:48 left in the first quarter.

The Hawks put together a determined drive on their ensuing possession, marching from their own 23-yard line to the Vikings’ 14-yard line, but Nashoba Tech’s Sean Davis pounced on a fumble to stop the threat.

The Nashoba Tech defense stopped the Hawks on their next two possessions, but Dean Tech successfully pulled off a trick play to maintain possession, Jeff Ortega connecting with Garcia for 27 yards on a fake punt. Five plays later, the Hawks got on the scoreboars when Ortega connected with Nate Hernandez from eight yards out, Hernandez outfighting a Nashoba Tech defender to make a sensational catch. The same duo hooked up for the conversion points to make it 14-8 with 2:41 left until halftime.

The Vikings bounced right back and appeared to grab momentum back when Gerace streaked 45 yards on a counter play for a touchdown. Steve Modica’s conversion run made it 22-8 with 1:50 left until intermission.

But Dean Tech totally turned that momentum around with two scores before halftime.

Ortega hit Garcia in full flight for a 49-yard bomb down the left sideline to slice the lead to 22-14. Just 33 seconds later, Emilio Torres intercepted a pass and returned it 15 yards for a touchdown, and when Garcia tacked on the conversion rush, it was suddenly 22-22 at halftime.

The Vikings came out with a bounce in their step to start the second half and appeared ready to regain the lead. Gerace picked up a first down with a 21-yard run, before Modica rambled for 12 yards to set Nashoba Tech up with a first-and-goal at the nine. But the Hawks’ defense rose up and forced a field goal attempt from 31 yards out that was missed.

Dean Tech put the ball in the hands of Garcia on the next drive and took the lead with an 80-yard march on nine plays. Garcia capped it with a nine-yard run and tacked on the conversion rush as the Hawks pulled in front 30-22.

Nashoba Tech was reeling, but put together a clutch drive to climb back into it. Two Greathead runs were good for a first down, before Gerace broke loose for 33 yards to the Dean Tech 10-yard line. On the next play, Gerace took a handoff and went over the right side, breaking tackles along the way to the end zone. The conversion rush failed and it was 30-28 with 8:14 left in the game.

After a big defensive play by Matt Clark forced Dean Tech into a three-and-out on the ensuing possession, the Vikings appeared to have taken the lead when Greathead hooked up with Gerace on a pretty 40-yard touchdown pass, but a penalty called the play back. A great punt pinned the Hawks in at their own two-yard line.

That punt gained significance when the Hawks fumbled on the next play and Davis recovered in the end zone for a Nashoba Tech touchdown to put the Vikings up 34-30 with 3:43 left.

The Hawks went back to their go-to guy, Garcia with time winding down and he produced, picking up 15 yards on four runs and catching a 34-yard pass from Ortega. But on a five-yard run to the Nashoba Tech 15-yard line, Garcia was hurt and replaced by Mike Jusino. Three plays later, Jusino took a handoff, was stymied in the center of the line, and broke to the right sidelines, scoring from 15 yards out for the winning touchdown.

Nashoba Tech had one final chance, but a fumble on a hook-and-ladder play was recovered by the Hawks.

Dean Tech was a picture of balance in the game, gaining 179 yards on both the ground and through the air. Garcia was outstanding, rushing for 118 yards on 24 carries and catching two passes for 76 yards. Ortega completed six of ten passes for 145 yards.

Gerace was brilliant for the Vikings, finishing with 122 yards rushing on 14 carries, completing his only pass attempt for 71 yards, and catching a pass. Greathead added 42 yards rushing while Modica gained 36 yards on six carries. Defensively, Greathead led the way with 12 tackles while McMahon, Modica, Gerace and Brian Jones were also outstanding.