Had Friday night’s Div. 3 quarterfinal football game between Billerica High and North Attleborough taken place on a dry, turf field?
But last night’s game on the muddy, grass at North Attleborough’s Community Field, complete with those old-fashioned goal posts and houses within a long kick away from the field, was all Rocketeers as the home team earned a soggy 34-6 to hand the Indians their first loss of the season.
The game was played in an intermittent driving rain and swirling wind that would bring torrential downpours followed by stretches of no precipitation at all.
Unfortunately for Billerica, running any kind of a creative offense on the slippery surface in North Attleborough was just as unpredictable as the weather.
The home team didn’t take long to strike as senior Nathan Shultz returned the opening kickoff 84 yards for a touchdown. Sophomore Austin Clemente’s extra point made it 7-0 just 14 seconds into the action.
The Indians weren’t able to move the ball in their first drive as two runs by senior Scott Einarson and one by senior quarterback JT Green didn’t get much, forcing a punt by BMHS junior Mike Murnane.
The Rocketeers didn’t take long to score again and a 30-yard touchdown run by Shultz made it 14-0 with only 5:29 gone in the game.
North Attleborough won its playoff opener by a 56-0 score over Oliver Ames and the Rocketeers looked to be off and running once again,
The Indians responded with a solid drive that included a pass from Green to Murnane, a roughing-the-passer penalty and an eye-popping one-handed grab by Einarson for 38 yards. Einarson scored moments later on a 3-yard run. The extra point missed, but BMHS was on the board and trailed 14-6.
North Attleborough would add one more touchdown before the end of the quarter, scoring on a 2-yard run by senior Gregory Berthiaume as time expired in the stanza. The Rocketeers converted a play on fourth down and another on third-and-long on the way to the end zone.
Billerica threatened to score again, moving the ball after a nice completion to sophomore Steven Gentile and a pair of runs by Green.
On a third-and-11 play from Attleborough’s 45-yard line, a 30-yard pass play to Murnane was erased by a holding penalty. BMHS was eventually forced to punt and the Rocketeers scored a crucial touchdown just before the half when Berthiaume scored on a 25-yard run with 1:17 to go. The extra point missed, but the home team led 27-6 at halftime.
The second half didn’t feature much in the way of offense with the muddy field slowing everybody down.
North Attleborough had the only touchdown of the second half when Shultz scored his third of the game with just 1:50 to play, scoring from four yards out.
The second-seeded Rocketeers improved to 7-2 overall with the win and will play undefeated Wakefield in the state semifinals next weekend.
Wakefield (10-0) beat third-seeded Plymouth South in its quarterfinal game, 24-14.
BMHS (9-1) will wrap up its season on Thanksgiving morning in Chelmsford. The Lions (8-1) face Catholic Memorial in the Div. 2 quarterfinals on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m.