FITCHBURG — It was a game that had all the makings of a colossal upset. It was Monty Tech’s Senior Night, the conditions were sloppy which could help a struggling Bulldogs’ defense, and the Crusaders came into the game with a 7-2 record, inches away from gaining a playoff berth in their inaugural season.
But despite all the signs of a trap game, the Crusaders dominated in all facets and stormed to a 28-0 victory.
The Groton-Dunstable defense was once again immense, not allowing a Monty Tech first down until 7:21 remained in the third quarter. The Crusaders’ offense took care of business, tallying quick points in the first quarter, which ended the Bulldogs’ night early.
“We preached it all week, that this was going to be a tough game and we can’t look at Monty Tech and expect a rout,” said Groton-Dunstable head coach Derek Asadoorian. “We worked hard all week. Give Monty Tech credit, they played well and with a lot of heart.”
The Crusaders’ defense set the tone, not allowing a yard on Monty Tech’s first possession and the offense took over and built a quick lead. After three Matt Hamel runs gained 12 yards, quarterback Ryan Romich ran the play to perfection, reading the defense like Dr. Seuss book. He kept the ball and bolted 45 yards for a touchdown. Brad Prasky added the conversion kick for a 7-0 lead.
After another Groton-Dunstable defensive stop, the offense doubled the lead. Runs of 11 and 33 yards by Shane Penney set up Romich’s 10-yard scoring run, before Prasky’s successful PAT made it 14-0.
Later in the second quarter, a Prasky punt pinned the Bulldogs in at their own 10-yard line. The Crusaders’ defense pushed them back five yards on the next three plays, forcing a punt from the end zone, and setting the Groton-Dunstable offense up with great field position. Romich connected on a 37-yard screen pass to Jake Penney, who rumbled to the end zone. When Prasky converted the PAT again, the Crusaders took a 21-0 lead to halftime.
After a scoreless third quarter, Hamel electrified the crowd with a 24-yard touchdown run, breaking three tackles along the way. Prasky made it four-for-four in conversions to boost the lead to 28-0.
Coach Asadoorian inserted the subs and Monty Tech mounted a drive, but the Crusaders received a big defensive play to preserve the shutout. Freshman Brad Ursprung tipped a Bulldog pass into the foggy sky, where John Dennome hauled it in for an interception with 22 seconds left.
Jake Penney, Shane Penney and Riley Baxter enjoyed standout defensive games with six tackles each. Offensively, Shane Penney finished with 88 yards rushing, Hamel 66 yards rushing, while Romich added 64 yards rushing and 66 yards passing.