For the first time this season, Whittier seemed a little deflated — but not for long.
Offensive lineman Jordan Britton admitted that his team was stunned by a first-half comeback by Saturday's challenger, Shawsheen.
"It was tough," said Britton. "We knew we had to shake it off somehow and make up for the mistakes that we made."
After jumping out to a quick 14-point lead, the Wildcats saw the advantage disappear when Shawsheen scored its second touchdown with 41 seconds left in the half.
But resilient Whittier needed only 31 seconds to march down the field and retake command with a score as time expired, and went on to dominate the second half on its way to a 38-14 victory yesterday afternoon.
"We were down when they tied the game up," said Wildcats coach Kevin Bradley. "To drive it the length of the field with just a picture-perfect two-minute drill was huge. We work on the two-minute drill all the time, but we never work on a 31-second drill. Everything clicked and that was the momentum shift for the game."
Whittier (7-0) seemed to be in full control with a 14-0 lead. But Shawsheen (2-5) rallied back to tie the score with a score on offense and defense. At the same time, the Rams held the Wildcats to three straight three-and-outs.
Following the Rams' second score, however, Whittier answered.
After running the single-wing for much of the first half, the Wildcats went to the air and Dillon Ryan hit on all four of his passes, capping the drive off by rolling to the right and lobbing a pass left to a wide-open Ralph Hancock.
"After the first pass I had a good feeling," said Ryan, who had thrown an interception that was retuned for a touchdown earlier in the quarter.
"I started hitting receivers and we started moving the ball down the field. I knew we could do it. When we scored the touchdown it was amazing."
Following that score, it was all Whittier in the second half. The Wildcats rolled to 173 yards rushing in the final two quarters, compared to 79 in the first half.
The defense was just as dominant, allowing only 55 total yards in the second half, 33 of which on one long run against the Whittier backups. Cory Foss, who rushed for a whopping 394 yards against North Shore, was limited to 54 yards on 14 carries, and Hancock picked off a pass.
"Our defense was incredible," said Britton. "Nate Allen, Donny (Leighton) and the guys. They just make plays."
Nick Ferreira rushed for a game-high 126 yards on only 14 carries.
Ryan, who entered the day leading the area in touchdown passes (15), was 12 of 20 for 124 yards and three TDs.
"We're flying high right now," said Ryan. "And there is more to come."
On Saturday, Whittier will take on Chelsea, one of more than a dozen undefeated teams remaining. The game is at home and begins at 10:30 a.m.
Whittier 38, Shawsheen 14
Whittier (7-0):8’Ç14’Ç16’Ç0 — 38
Shawsheen (2-5):0’Ç14’Ç’Ç0’Ç0 — 14
W — Ralph Hancock 4 pass from Dillon Ryan (Paul Buccos run), 7:28
W — Kobie Green-Jackson 31 pass from Ryan (rush failed), 8:32
S — Derek Steen 10 interception return (Nick Danas kick), 3:47
S — Cory Foss 1 run (Danas kick), 0:41
W — Hancock 5 pass from Ryan (Nick Ferreira rush), 0:00
W — Ferreira 41 run (Ryan rush), 7:12
W — Nate Allen 14 run (Don Leighton rush), 3:04
RUSHING: Whittier (43-257) — Nick Ferreira 14-126, Mark Asemota 7-36, Paul Buccos 5-39, Nate Allen 4-30, Don Leighton 9-28, Jack Cressy 1-6, Andy Jacques 1-(-2), Dillon Ryan 2-(-4); Shawsheen (23-58) — Cory Foss 14-54
PASSING: Whittier — Ryan 12-20-1, 124; Shawsheen — Kevin White 2-11-1, 67
RECEIVING: Whittier — Steve Surette 6-47, Ralph Hancock 3-36, Kobie Green-Jackson 1-31, Ferreira 1-9, Jay Desjardins 1-1; Shawsheen — Robert Greenwood 2-67
15 unbeatens left
Whittier (7-0) is one of 15 unbeaten teams left in Eastern Mass. The Cats will host fellow unbeaten Chelsea (6-0) Saturday at 10:30 a.m.
The other unbeatens are Abington, Bridgewater-Raynham, Cohasset, Falmouth, Franklin, Gloucester, Holliston, Natick, Needham, Reading, Walpole, Westwood and Xaverian.
P.O. Box 991