Red Raiders come up short in Div. 3 title game, 14-7

FOXBOROUGH — The Melrose High football team hopes of winning a Div. 3 Super Bowl title came up just short as the Red Raiders were on the short end of a thrilling 14-7 contest against Dartmouth on Saturday night at Gillette Stadium.

The Red Raiders finished the season with a 10-3 record. Melrose finished second in the Middlesex League Freedom division to clinch a playoff berth. Once in the postseason, the Red Raiders knocked off Wakefield, Woburn, Concord-Carlisle and Tewksbury en route to the final at Gillette.

Melrose wasn’t the M.L. team that was expected to win the Div. 3 Northwest title and it wasn’t the favorite in the Div. 3 state semifinal against Tewksbury.

Dartmouth (11-2) wasn’t expected to be in the Super Bowl, either.

Few expected the Indians to beat Somerset Berkley. Even fewer picked them over Walpole. But, as it has all season, Dartmouth defied the odds. The Indians scored 14 first quarter points and shut Melrose out in the second half to claim the seven point victory.

Junior Chris Martin rushed for 215 yards on 31 carries and one touchdown and was the difference in the outcome.

Also senior Jacob Rose picked off a pass in the final minute to power Dartmouth past Melrose.

Melrose was desperate in the final minute as it attempted to get the tying TD. Quarterback Jake Karelas tried to orchestrate a comeback but a pass in Rose’s direction proved costly. Karelas completed five of 16 passes for 63 yards.

Karelas was looking for William Caffey but Rose backpedaled, jumped in front of Caffey and intercepted the pass. He slid to the ground and Dartmouth came out in victory formation.

Dartmouth players on the sideline rejoiced, hugging one another as the final seconds ticked off.

In the first quarter, Dartmouth jumped out to an early 7-0 lead after Martin scored from one yard away on fourth down.

The Indians forced the Red Raiders into a three-and-out and took a 14-0 lead on a 12-yard scamper from Alex Tisdelle.

Dartmouth dominated possession and used its run game to its advantage, as it has all season. Melrose had no answer and it looked as if the Indians might run away with the game.

But Melrose responded. Senior Jack Hickey scored from one yard out with 40 seconds remaining in the first half. Hickey finished with 78 yards rushing on 19 carries, keeping his team in the game.

Suddenly, it was a one-score game. Perhaps Melrose had another comeback in it. But the score stayed 14-7 throughout. The teams traded punts as a steady rain poured onto the field.

Both teams rely on their running games but nothing was working offensively in the second half. After three quarters, Dartmouth had 251 yards to Melrose’s 138.

With 2:51 remaining, it appeared that Dartmouth had iced the game. Martin broke free for a 51-yard gain. He motored to Melrose’s 8 yard line but then committed a mistake that could have been critical. Martin fumbled, Christian Pizzotti recovered, and the Red Raiders took over at the eight.

Melrose approached midfield, but Rose’s interception clinched the win.