Warriors fall to defending Super Bowl champion Green Wave by 21-8 tally

SENIOR QB/DB Ned Buckley scored Wakefield's only touchdown against Abington as he returned an interception 79 yards for the score. The Warriors lost the non-league game, 21-8, to fall to 0-2 on the season. (Donna Larsson File Photo)

SENIOR QB/DB Ned Buckley scored Wakefield’s only touchdown against Abington as he returned an interception 79 yards for the score. The Warriors lost the non-league game, 21-8, to fall to 0-2 on the season. (Donna Larsson File Photo)

Published in the September 21, 2015 edition.


ABINGTON — Friday night the Wakefield Memorial High football team played its second consecutive non-league game against a recent Super Bowl champion, traveling down to the South Shore to play the Abington Green Wave.

Wakefield played better compared to last week’s loss to Beverly but still could not put together a complete game, losing 21-8 at Frolio School Memorial Field.

Wakefield’s run defense was much improved, playing against a strong Abington run game featuring All-Scholastic running back Shawn Donovan who was held to 69 yards on 15 carries.

But the Warrior pass defense suffered lapses giving up a couple of big plays while the Wakefield offense struggled with its running game only gaining 59 yards on 22 attempts. Wakefield has now scored only one offensive touchdown in its two games.

Wakefield’s offense came from its defense on a highlight reel play. Senior safety Ned Buckley intercepted an Abington pass deep in Warrior territory and returned it 79 yards for Wakefield’s only score. Joe Marinaccio added the two point conversion with a reception of a Kobey Nadeau pass on a fake PAT attempt.

Wakefield, which only had the ball twice the entire first half trailed 15-0 at halftime. Buckley’s pick six came late in the third quarter and Abington scored its game-clinching touchdown with under two minutes to play in the game.

Abington won the coin toss and tried some trickery right off the bat. Abington senior Javin Vincelette took Paul McGunigle’s kickoff and attempted an end around handoff to teammate Donovan. But the play was initially botched and Donovan was forced out of bounds by Wakefield’s special team coverage at the 17 yard line.

The Green Wave then began a 16 play, nine minute drive that yielded the game’s first score.

After a three yard run by Donovan to open the game, senior tight end Nate Riordan beat the Warrior pass coverage down the left sideline, hauling in a 32 yard pass from Abington junior quarterback Evan Fanara. Now sitting at the Wakefield 48 yard line, Abington used running backs Dave Lyons, Matt Dalton and Donovan to gain a combined 12 yards and a first down.

After a motion penalty set the Green Wave back five yards to the Wakefield 41, Abington handed the ball yet again to Dalton and Donovan who each gained four yards on the next two plays. On third down and seven, Abington tried to set up a screen pass but Wakefield defended it well with linebacker Zack Kane and defensive lineman Matt Mercurio bringing Lyons down after only a two yard gain.

Looking at fourth down and five at the Warrior 31 yard line, Abington lined up in a passing set. The snap was initially dropped but QB Fanara kept his composure and found Vincelette wide open for a 13 yard gain at the right hash mark. With a fresh set of downs, Abington went back to the run, gaining 10 more yards on three consecutive run plays, one by Donovan and two by junior running back Josh Martin.

On first and goal from the Wakefield 7, Wakefield’s run defense stiffened as lineman Logan Dunn and Kane stuffed two Green Wave runs for two yards and no gain. However on third and goal, Abington went to the air, with Fanara finding Vincelette wide open in the end zone for a five yard touchdown. Ryan Landers converted the point after kick and Abington led 7-0.

With less than two minutes to play in the first quarter the Warrior offense finally saw the ball. After no gain on its first play, a six yard keeper by quarterback Buckley was nullified by a holding penalty. Tighe Beck, lined up as a running back instead of a receiver, ran to left side gaining 16 yards. Like Abington, the Warriors chose to keep the ball on the ground, as consecutive runs by McGunigle (four yards), Kane (four yards), Buckley (three yards) and Beck (three yards) put Wakefield in a third down and six at the Green Wave 42 yard line.

Buckley then found Beck, now lined up at wide receiver, running a slant for seven yards and a first down. After the next two plays gained little, Wakefield again converted a third down with Buckley rolling right to find a wide open McGunigle in the right flat who took the ball for a 10 yard gain. But on the next play, Buckley and McGunigle fumbled a read option exchange, with linebacker Pat Riordan recovering at the Abington 25 yard line with seven minutes remaining in the first half.

Abington substituted at quarterback on this series bringing in sophomore Jack Maguire and he made his presence felt immediately. On his first play, Maguire went up top and found Donovan behind the Wakefield secondary for a 43 yard gain.

Set up now at the Wakefield 32, the Green Wave used five consecutive running plays to move to the Warrior 18 yard line. However, a chop block penalty and a bad snap cost Abington 30 yards of field position and the Green Wave was forced to punt.

Green Wave punter Riordan executed a perfect coffin corner punt from the Wakefield 41 yard line with the ball downed at the Warrior one yard line where Wakefield took over with 2:40 left in the second quarter. Three consecutive runs yielding a total of five yards gave Wakefield a little breathing room but not enough for a first down to maintain possession. Forced to give the ball right back to Abington, Pat Leary’s punt went for 33 yards, putting the Green Wave Abington at the Wakefield 40 yard line with just over 90 seconds remaining in the half.

After Dunn wrapped up Donovan after a three yard gain, Fanara found Donovan in tight coverage across the middle for 15 yards with the tackle credited to Evan Gourville. Fanara ran for seven more yards before a pass interference penalty against Wakefield gave Abington a first down at the Warrior 16 yard line. With just over 30 ticks left on the first half clock, Donovan took a handoff and jumped over tacklers before linebacker Alex Jancsy hauled him down at the 7 yard line.

Lyons looked headed for the end zone on the next running play before Buckley came up from his safety position and dropped him at the 2 yard line. Following a spike to stop the clock Lyons could only gain a yard, as Wakefield’s line held. However, after an Abington timeout, Lyons found a crease and fell into the end zone for Abington’s second touchdown with 6.3 seconds remaining in the half.

After Wakefield went offside on the PAT kick, Abington chose to go for two. Fanara found Lyons on a crossing pattern and Abington was able to take a 15-0 lead into the locker room.

Wakefield got the ball to start the second half and moved it crisply from its own 35 yard line to the Abington 35 yard line. Key plays included a 14 yard pass reception by senior receiver Eric Smith, an eight yard keeper by Buckley and an eight yard catch by junior receiver Alex McKenna. Beck made two plays as well, gaining five yards on a wildcat run and going low to the ground to make a Julian Edelman-like catch for a first down on a fourth down and two play

The drive stalled however when Buckley was sacked on consecutive plays (one an unsuccessful screen call) resulting in a loss of nearly 30 yards in field position. After a Wakefield punt, Abington took over in good field position at their own 44 yard line with just under four minutes to go in the third quarter.

On their second play of the possession, Maguire scrambled out of a near-sack to find Donovan who took it for 20 yards to the Wakefield 34 yard line. Two incomplete passes and a run yielded nothing, putting Abington in a fourth down and 10 situation. Maguire then launched a pass over the middle but Buckley, playing zone coverage, picked off the ball at the 21 yard line. He zig-zagged to the right sideline, following his blockers, and then outran the remaining Abington defenders over the final 30 yards to complete a 79 yard interception return for a touchdown.

Wakefield then faked the point after kick with Marinacchio making a tough back line catch in the end zone on a pass from holder Nadeau. With 25 seconds left in the third quarter, Wakefield was back in the game, down 15-8.

The Warriors got a lift from that score as Abington could do nothing with their first possession of the fourth quarter. The key defensive stop was a textbook tackle by Gourville on a third down run play that left quarterback Fanara two yards short of a first down. Punter Riordan however launched a 51 yard punt pinning Wakefield on their own 10 yard line.

Junior Nadeau replaced an injured Buckley (who suffered a wrist injury and would not return) at quarterback and immediately found Beck up the sideline for 14 yards. Three more pass plays put Wakefield in a fourth down and one at its own 33 yard line with just over seven and a half minutes left. The Warriors went for it but a mistimed running play got swallowed up by Abington defenders Lyons and Justin Kelleher for a two yard loss.

With great field position and the clock winding down, the Green Wave picked up one first down before the Warrior defense asserted itself. A key play here was a run stuff by sophomores Cole Gregson and Christian Hayes. Abington then attempted a 33 yard field goal that fell short and Wakefield got the ball back on its 20 yard line down one score with 4:30 to play.

The Warriors moved the ball to near midfield on two Nadeau completions, one to Beck who made a great catch in triple coverage, and the other to senior Kevin Russo who had the presence of mind to get out of bounds to stop the clock after his reception.

Wakefield could not convert another first down as three pass attempts went for incompletions. A 29 yard punt with a 14 yard return put Abington on its own 34 yard line with 3:16 to go.

Abington kept the ball on the ground for six consecutive plays gaining a total of 29 yards while the Warriors called timeout after the first five to preserve time on the clock. With the ball now on the Wakefield 34 yard line, Green Wave senior Brendan Glavin took a handoff, cut back against the grain and scampered into the end zone for the game-clinching touchdown.

Down 21-8 with just under 1:30 to play, the Warriors got a 26 yard kick return from McKenna to put the ball at their own 41 yard line. An eight yard scramble by Nadeau and an 11 yard reception by Beck got the ball into Abington territory but the Warriors ran out of time and downs.

Game Notes: Not surprisingly Buckley’s interception return for a touchdown was one of the longest ever for Wakefield High. … The Warrior defensive line rotation of Dunn, Mercurio, Mike Hakioglu, Nick Nice, Joe Connell and Evan McMaster played a stout game against the run. … Pat Riordan was Abington’s unsung hero with a fumble recovery and two excellent punts that changed the complexion of the game each time. … Lineman Dunn recovered a Warrior fumble after a tough Abington hit jarred the ball loose from the Wakefield running back. … The game was played on natural grass.