ATTLEBORO — In the second half of its MIAA Division 2 state first-round playoff game with Bishop Feehan on Friday, there were not many things that went the Reading High football team’s way in the second half.
But when the Rockets absolutely, positively needed to make a play, they made a play.
Bishop Feehan quarterback Aidan Crump got into the end zone with 32.3 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to cut Reading’s lead to two points, On the conversion attempt to tie the score, Crump threw into the right corner of the end zone. Reading defensive back Aidan Bekkenhuis knocked down the pass, allowing the Rockets to hold on for a 25-23 victory at McGrath Stadium.
“I just made the read that our coaches told me to do,” said Bekkenhuis, who also caught five passes for 99 yards and a touchdown. “I could see my man was not in a blocking posture so I just went and knocked the ball down.”
Reading, the ninth seed in Division 2, improved to 9-0 and will visit top-seeded Catholic Memorial on Friday at 6:30 p.m. in West Roxbury.
“We’re really pleased with the results,” said Reading coach John Fiore. “We had too many penalties (10 for 105 yards). We can’t give away that many free yards, but Bishop Feehan is a great team and this is a great atmosphere. We were on the road, really on the road. It’s not like going two exits down on (Rte.) 128 for a Middlesex League game.”
Bishop Feehan, the eighth seed, dropped to 7-2.
“They were by far the most physical team we’ve played,” said Reading running back Colby Goodchild, who gained 147 yards on 23 carries, with one touchdown and also came up with an interception. “We just had a little more fight in us.”
On Reading’s first possession, Goodchild carried the ball on the first seven plays, gaining 48 yards down to the Shamrocks’ 3. After Feehan stopped quarterback James Murphy for a two-yard loss on first-and-goal, Murphy completed his first of three touchdown passes, finding Ryan Strout in the end zone. Jake Palm’s kick made it 7-0.
“It’s pick your poison,” said Bishop Feehan coach Bryan Pinabell. “That’s the best offense we’ve seen all year. Murphy is phenomenal.”
Feehan made it to the Reading 15 on the next possession. Goodchild ended a threat when he picked off a pass at the 1. On the next play, he broke loose for a 45-yard gain. On the sixth play of the drive, Murphy (18 for 26, 226 yards (one interception) Murphy threw to Bekkenhuis in the end zone from the 16.
Goodchild added a six-yard touchdown run of his own on the next series to make it 19-0 with 4:15 left in the first half.
Connor McHale put the Shamrocks on the board with four minutes left before halftime on an 88-yard kickoff return.
Reading responded on its next series by adding another touchdown, this one on a 13-yard pass from Murphy to Jesse Doherty with 14.7 seconds remaining in the half to give the Rockets a 25-6 lead.
In the second half, Bishop Feehan closed the gap with a 5=yard touchdown run by Cameron Burns and a 21-yard field goal from Brett McCaffery, which cut Reading’s lead to 25-17 with 8:05 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The series that led to the field goal started after McHale picked off a pass and returned it 46 yards to the Reading 35. Reading’s Eamon Centrella came up with a sack during the series and Patrick DuRoss made stops on three straight plays before the Shamrocks went for the field goal.
Bishop Feehan began its final drive after Reading punted from midfield A 47-yard pass from Crump to McHale put the hosts on the two-yard line. Two plays later, Crump scored his touchdown.
After the unsuccessful conversion, the Shamrocks attempted an onside kick but touched the ball before it went 10 yards, allowing Reading to get the ball and run out the clock.