Football’s Perfect Season Intact…Nov. 4, 2015
By Michael James LeClair
The Nashoba Regional and Clinton football teams have rekindled an old flame.
The Chieftains and Gaels met under the lights of the Clinton Veterans Athletic Complex for the 29th time in the rivalry’s history and first time since 2012 on Friday night.
Nashoba came out strong and dominated from start to finish as the guests cruised to a 34-8 victory.
The win for Nashoba improves the Chieftains to a perfect 8-0 and secures the top seed in the upcoming Central Mass. Division 2 Tournament. The victory is also the ninth straight win against the Gaels for Nashoba.
“You can’t take Clinton lightly in a rivalry game like this,” said Nashoba head coach Jamie Tucker. “Their kids played hard. We had some big plays early and that kind of set the tone for us.”
The top-seeded Chieftains will host fourth seeded Marlborough on Friday night in the first round of the Central Mass. Division 2 Tournament. The winner of Friday night’s battle will get the winner of second-seeded Leominster and third-seeded St. John’s of Shrewsbury the following weekend.
For Clinton, who drops to 4-4 on the season, the loss eliminated any chance of the Gaels qualifying for the Central Mass. Division 5 Tournament as the Gaels needed a win on Friday night and some help from a handful of other teams in Central Mass.
“They’re a very good team, they’re very explosive,” Clinton head coach Paul Constantino said of Nashoba. “We tried to implement some things this week, specifically for Nashoba, a lot more spread and shotgun, things we don’t normally do too much of.”
As for Friday night, the Chieftains dominated, jumping out to a 34-0 lead before the hosts broke up the shutout with a late third quarter touchdown to conclude the scoring.
Nathan Mansour got the offensive outburst started for the Chieftains on their first possession.
Following a Clinton punt to open the game, Nashoba needed just two plays to find the end zone. Mansour took a handoff and found daylight, rumbling 82 yards to the end zone. Matt Allaire kicked the extra point to make 7-0 just 9:22 into the opening stanza.
The guests doubled their lead later in the first quarter when quarterback Robert Atwood pounded his way across the goal line from two-yards out. Allaire’s kick made it 14-0 with 4:18 remaining.
The Clinton offense struggled to produce against the Nashoba starting defensive unit as it came up empty on all six of its first half possessions. The Chieftains forced four punts and an interception over the first 22 minutes of action.
Meanwhile, Nashoba added to its already comfortable lead with two more touchdowns in the second quarter. Adam Chiodo scored on a handoff from 12-yards out before Jake Benjamin’s 23-yard touchdown scamper. Allaire hit one of his two second quarter extra point attempts as Nashoba enjoyed a 27-0 lead heading into halftime.
The Chieftains picked up right where they left off, opening the third quarter as they needed one play from scrimmage to find paydirt. As Nashoba added to the lead 18 seconds in, Benjamin registered his second TD of the night, this time with a 48-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second half. Allaire’s kick made it 34-0 before many fans made their way back from the concession stand.
The Gaels were able to come away with some positives despite being overmatched by the powerful Chieftains. Clinton broke up the shutout bid late in the third quarter when Tom Russell put the hosts on the scoreboard with a 13-yard touchdown run. Jack McEvilly’s conversion run made it 34-8 with 22 seconds left in the third quarter.
So now the Chieftains set their sights on a Marlborough team that they’ve already gotten the better of back in week five. Nashoba handled the Panthers on October 9 with a 28-0 blanking. Despite the final score the first time around, the Chieftains will not be taking Marlborough lightly. Tucker and his staff know that when the playoffs start you can throw previous results out the window as Marlborough will be fired up and looking for a little revenge. The Chieftains will need a solid effort to punch their ticket to the Division 2 title game.