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TOWNSEND — On an emotional day with tributes to the horrible events on the date eight years earlier, the North Middlesex football team turned 9/11/09 into a memorable day.

The Patriots played a complete football game, dominating on offense, defense and special teams to end a 22-game losing streak with a 23-8 victory over visiting Stoneham.

“We have talked about the losing streak since June and we weren’t going to hide behind it,” said North Middlesex coach Sandy Ruggles. “It was a mantra of ours, 9-11-22. We knew what had to be done tonight and the kids did it. This is a great night and we will enjoy this until tomorrow afternoon when we transition into getting ready for Fitchburg.”

The game ball could be split three ways on this night. Leading the way was senior quarterback Evan Woollacott, who rushed 27 times for 172 yards and two scores while adding a touchdown pass.

The offensive line of Pat Dickhaut, Nick Mangiacotti, Cam Hendley, Jordan Smith and Ben Brandon opened holes for a rushing attack that gained 295 yards. On the other side of the ball, the defense held the Spartans to 149 total yards, including only 32 in the second half.

“Evan played an outstanding game tonight and really controlled the offense,” said Ruggles. “Our offensive line was outstanding and you have to give credit to the line coach Russ Wollacott for getting them ready. On defense, the kids just stepped up huge in the second half. This was really a great team effort.”

After forcing a punt and picking up 15 yards in field position on a kick interference penalty, the Patriots started their first drive at the Stoneham 48-yard line. Behind the running of Woollacott and T.J. Schools, North Middlesex advanced to the 10, but were faced with a fourth-and-four. Woollacott went to the air and the pass deflected off the hands of Chris Paul into the hands of Joe Hollenbeck, who made the catch in the back of the end zone for the touchdown. Hollenbeck added the conversion kick to make it 7-0.

The Patriots next drive stalled just five yards short of paydirt, but the defense came up with a pair of big plays to set up the next scoring march. A combined sack by Smith and Paul, followed by another drop of the quarterback by Paul, forced a punt. A 13-yard return by Colin Cenedella gave the Pats the ball at the Spartans 27.

From there, the offense needed only three plays to increase their advantage. After an incomplete pass, Schools broke loose for a 24-yard run, and from the three yard line Woollacott called his own number and went straight up the middle for a three-yard touchdown run. Hollenbeck added the extra point to make it 14-0 with 5:55 to play in the first half.

The teams traded interceptions before Stoneham finally put together a scoring drive. Starting at their own 39-yard line, the Spartans used the pass to move the ball down the field, keyed by a 37-yard connection from Paul Wilson to Jon Thain. That duo hooked up again on third-and-eight from the 10 for the touchdown. Wilson added the conversion rush, making it 14-8 heading to intermission.

At the start of the third quarter, the Patriots put together another solid scoring drive. Starting from their own 47, North Middlesex used their ground game and a pair of Stoneham penalties to move the ball down to the nine. The drive stalled out there, but Hollenbeck drilled a 26-yard field goal that made it a two possession game at 17-8.

A fumble recovery at the Spartans 27 set up another score. On the third play of the drive, Woollacott took off up the middle before making an outstanding cut to the left into open field, covering 20 yards for his second rushing score of the night. A bad snap led to a failed conversion, but the score was now 23-8.

Midway through the fourth quarter, Stoneham put together a drive to try to get back into the game. Starting at the North Middlesex 48, Wilson drove his team to the 10. On second down, it appeared Wilson had thrown a touchdown pass to Thain, but the Spartans 18th and final penalty of the night wiped out the score.

The Patriots defense held as Hollenbeck forced a fumble that was recovered by the Pats and the offense ran out the clock to pick up the first win in three calendar years.

“I have been involved in a lot of big wins in my life but this feels as good as any of them,” said Ruggles.

“I am just so proud of the kids. They worked so hard in the offseason and knew what they had to do. They just played so hard tonight,” he said.

The Patriots will return to action on Friday night when they will host Fitchburg with the opening kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m.