NEWTON — The Woburn High football team bounced back nicely from its humbling playoffs loss to Catholic Memorial, scoring 38 unanswered points in a 38-7 victory over Newton South, yesterday at Winkler Stadium.
The Tanners (7-2) got it done on the ground to the tune of 271 yards on 41 carries, with three scores from fullback Derek Baccari and one from halfback Brian Ferreira.
Defensively, Woburn held the Lions to a net one yard rushing on 17 carries and only 103 yards of total offense, overall.
Ferreira had a tough start to the day, losing possession of the ball on his first two touches. The first came on the Tanners' first play from scrimmage. Ferreira had moved past the line of scrimmage and into the second level when he sideswiped an official and lost the ball.
The Lions recovered the fumble at their 46 and began a seven-play, 54-yard scoring drive, most of which came on the scoring play itself, a 46-yard touchdown pass down the left side by quarterback Everson Quissanga to wide receiver Patrick Sullivan. It was a perfect pass that threaded the needle as Sullivan caught the ball at the goal line, just out of reach of two Tanners' defensive backs.
On the ensuing kickoff, Ferreira took the ball at the 22 and was on the verge of breaking one when he was hit and stripped of the ball at the 40, and Newton South recovered at the Woburn 44.
"I don't know where that came from," said Woburn coach Jack Belcher, of the two fumbles lost. "It was a short week, so it seemed like the three practices we had (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday) ‘Coaching 101’ is don't try and do anything too new, polish up what you have been doing well, and that's what we did. Ball security was on the list."
The Tigers went right to work in the air, again, when Quissanga hit Jack Foster for a 23-yard completion to the Tanner 21. A 15-yard penalty set the Lions back, as did a five-yarder one play later. But on second and 31, Quissanga found Sullivan again, this time for 32 yards down to the 10.
Woburn's defense stiffened at that point, and on fourth and goal from the 22, Quissanga tried to strike again down that left sideline. This time Tanner defensive back Andrew Taft intercepted the ball a yard deep in the end zone, and returned the ball 74 yards down the right sideline to the Newton South 27.
"We knew they wanted to throw it," said Belcher. "They had some success with it, and there were a couple that they missed that could have made it tougher. Thankfully they were incompletions."
Fortunately for Ferreira, his coach is not Bill Belichick, and Belcher put him right back in the backfield, where his first carry got him seven more yards. Baccari closed out the first scoring drive with a 14-yard run and a two-yard plunge into the end zone. Ferreira provided the two-point rush to put Woburn ahead to stay, 8-7, as the first quarter came to an end.
"If he had a third one, there might have been some thought," said Belcher, with a laugh. "It was good."
It turned out Quissanga would not complete another pass the rest of the game, as the Tanners completely took over the game on both sides of the ball.
Woburn started its first drive of the second quarter on its 19 and proceeded to march 81 yards on nine plays, only one of which was a pass.
Ferreira (16-123) got it started with a 10-yard run, Baccari got the next first down with a seven-yard run, and Brett Tuzzolo completed the only pass on the drive to Marc Cutone for 15 yards and a third first down at the Newton South 45.
After a Baccari 11-yard run picked up the next first down, Ferreira had carries of 11 and 18 yards before scoring a touchdown from two yards out. This time, Baccari converted the two-point conversion rush to give the Tanners a two-score lead, 16-7, with 5:10 left in the second quarter.
Woburn scored on its final drive of the half, as well. Tiger running back Zach Gabriel had picked up one first down with runs of eight and four yards, but those would be his last two carries of the day that would be for positive yardage.
The Tanners got the ball at their 44, and the relied on Ferreira for the first half of the drive. He picked up 22 yards on five carries, before the clock became a factor. Tuzzolo went to the air and threw a completion to Ferreira for eight yards before tossing a 35-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Mazen Fayad. The pass actually went off the hands of another receiver as he battled for the ball with a defensive back. Fayad was in the right place at the right time for the easy catch.. Ferreira provided the two-point rush with nine seconds left, giving Woburn a 24-7 lead at the half.
"As it has been most of the year, our power running - tight end to tight end - was good," said Belcher. "When they (Lions) jammed it up inside, Brett threw some nice balls for completions to loosen them up a bit."
The Tanners got the ball first in the third quarter and they continued to experience success on the ground. Baccari (9-83) picked up 24 yards on the first play from scrimmage. Ferreira had the next two carries, and the second one, for 12 yards, had a personal foul penalty for 13 yards tacked on to give Woburn a first down at the Newton South 13. Three plays later, Baccari scored his second touchdown on a one-yard run. The first of two successful conversion kicks by Cutone made it 31-7 with 8:43 left in the third.
The final touchdown drive introduced a new name to the ground attack, Lucas Maia. Ferreira had the first rush of the 75-yard drive for 16 yards to the 41, then Maia carried the ball six times in a row for 31 yards and three first downs.
Baccari broke up the string with a 16-yard run down to the 12. After three more Maia rushes for nine-yards, Baccari got the ball on fourth and one, and scored his third touchdown from three yards out for the 38-7 final.
The rest of the game was played on running time.
The Tanners will close out their season against their traditional rival, Winchester, in a non-traditional but spectacular setting, Fenway Park, on the Wednesday night (6:30 p.m.) before Thanksgiving Day.