(Our “Throwback Thursday” series looks back at the Burlington at Woburn football game in 1980. Played on a Monday afternoon due to rain, it became an all-time classic that is still talked about today by those who are old enough to remember.)
The Woburn High football team was riding a 25-game unbeaten streak heading into its game in late October against once-beaten Burlington in Week 6.
The Tanners, the defending Div. 1 Super Bowl champions, had a tie against Melrose in the third week and had not suffered a loss since the opening game of the 1978 season to Medford (3-0).
Burlington’s only loss to this point in the 1980 season was a non-league set back to Walpole in its season opener. The Red Devils were 4-0 in the Middlesex League to this point and were coming off three straight shutouts.
This was in the height of those “Battle of Winn St.” days and even the Daily Times Chronicle dubbed another moniker on this game calling it “Thanksgiving in October.”
Burlington jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter on a two-yard run by Steve Strachan and then a 26-yard touchdown pass from Shawn Maguire to Chris Torto.
But, Woburn, and more notably Ron Hobby, kept chipping away.
Hobby had short touchdown runs of two and three yards in the second quarter to keep the Tanners in it. Hobby also kicked both PATs to make it 14-14 at halftime.
Strachan scored on a one-yard run in the third quarter and Jim Travaglini kicked his third extra point for a 21-14 Burlington lead.
With 2:19 remaining in the game, Woburn’s Dan Guilli recovered a fumble at the Burlington 45.
Eight plays later, Hobby rushed in from the one to make it 21-20 with 45 seconds left. There was no question that Woburn coach Peter Sullivan was going for the two points and the win.
Hobby took a toss to the right and found the corner of the end zone for Woburn’s first lead of the game, 22-21.
In all, Hobby will forever go into the ranks of Woburn sports immortality for his efforts in this game.
He had 171 yards rushing, intercepted a pass, recovered a fumble, and scored all 22 of Woburn’s points in that game.
Note: The Tanners went on to beat Reading (28-6) and Stoneham (49-8) in their next two games before Lexington ended the unbeaten streak, 33-14, at 28 games. Burlington also fell to Lexington on Thanksgiving, 21-14, to finish 7-3 as the Minutemen took the ML title.
RON HOBBY'S FIRST-HAND RECOLLECTION
That was a day my teammates and myself will never forget.
I think we were upset that we did not get to play that Saturday afternoon but our coaches wanted us to have the best chance of winning that game because we still had an opportunity to make it to the Super Bowl with a no-loss record.
The benefit on playing that Monday was the whole league got an opportunity to see two good football teams battle on the gridiron and they were not disappointed.
My enemy/friend Steve Strachan (of Burlington) was a very good player and throughout our competing against one another his team had never beaten the team I was playing for in our young lives. We met later in college, BC (Strachan) vs. ’Cuse (me) and it was a split decision.
They had only one loss and we had a tie. It was a great battle with us coming out on top.
I recall the extra point we needed to score to take the lead with less than a minute left and Coach (Peter) Sullivan being a little crazy on the sideline on what to call. It was a basic pitch play to the right side of our line and the blocking was just perfect enough that I tucked it in the corner of the end zone which gave us the lead.
Well, Burlington came back to give us a big scare when Steve threw the ball 60 yards to his favorite receiver and just missed connecting. We eventually intercepted the next attempt and the game was over and the Tanners still remained undefeated without a loss for two years.
Thanks to the Daily Times Chronicle for asking me to do this summary because it stirred up some wonderful memories, most appreciative.