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NASHOBA VALLEY VOICE / ED NISER
Ayer Shirley quarterback Steven Lawton fires a pass as he his hit during Friday night’s loss to Maynard.
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AYER – Ayer Shirley (5-3) trailed 20-6 early in the third quarter following a 42-yard touchdown pass from Maynard quarterback Tommy Smith to Eric Kiley in the middle of the end zone.

Ayer Shirley senior Brendan Percoskie (5 catches, 67 yards, 2 TD) hauled in two touchdown grabs in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 20-20 with 6:21 remaining, but it was not enough.

Maynard running back Zach Uglevich swept around the right side for the 1-yard touchdown to put the Tigers up 28-20 following the two-point conversion with 2:48 remaining.

“The kids played very hard,” Ayer Shirley first-year head coach Phil Marchegiani said. “They could’ve very easily folded their tent. We were down 20-6 and it came down to a handful of plays in critical situations.”

Maynard chugged into the end zone just 4:47 into the game when Uglevich plunged in from two-yards out on the Tigers’ 65 yard opening drive. The Panthers held on the two point conversion to limit the damage to 6-0.

Ayer Shirley scored on its opening possession, as Zach Patton trudged into the end zone from one-yard out off left tackle to tie it. Percoske’s PAT clanged off the crossbar to keep the game level with 1:17 remaining in the quarter.

The Panthers defense warded off the high-powered Maynard rushing attack, forcing a four-and-out at its own 45-yard line.

The Panthers marched down to the Tiger 8-yard lie in eight plays, but a costly fumble on third-and-two put the ball in the hands of the Maynard offense late in the second quarter.

The two-headed rushing attack Stephen Peterson and Uglevich set the Tigers up comfortably at the Ayer Shirley 25-yard line with under 25 seconds to go in the half.

Smith chucked a 25 yard bomb that found Eric Kiley on a fade pattern across the middle of the end zone for a touchdown. The two-point conversion attempt failed as the Tigers took a 12-6 lead into the half.

Ayer Shirley coughed up the ball on its opeing possession of the second half. Maynard capitalized on the Panther turnover as Smith linked up with Kiley for his second TD grab of the evening from 45 yards out with 10:36 remaining in the third.

The Panthers showed some grit on its ensuing possession as Lawton (5 of 7, 57 yards, 2 TD) found Percoskie for a 20yard pickup. Then, it Lawton slung a touch pass to only where Percoskie could get it. Percoskie muscled it away from the Maynard defensive back and fell into the end zone for the 25-yard TD reception. Lawton’s pass to Jaden Hamilton on the two-point conversion failed with 6:55 remaining in the third.

Maynard carried the ball to the 25-yard line of the Panthers on its next drive, but it was Lawton who would come up big for Ayer Shirley.

Lawton hopped his receiver’s route and snagged the pass from Smith and brought it back 56 yards to the Maynard 8-yard line. In just two plays, Lawton hit his man, Percoskie, just outside the end zone for a five-yard touchdown with 6:21 remaining in the game.

“We just came up a little short tonight,” Marchegiani said. “The seniors that have been a part of this program since week one on have been awesome. We came up a couple inches short on a first down. It comes down to a handful of plays at critical points of the game. We just move on, and we won’t change anything. We are going to keep on doing what we are doing.”

Follow Ed Niser on Twitter and Tout @EdNiser

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