Two storied high school football programs, one memorable game.
Bonny Eagle and Cheverus have made magical state championship moments in winning a combined seven titles against other teams. Now this was their chance to do it against each other. They didn’t disappoint.
Quarterback Zach Dubiel scored from 6 yards on fourth down with 22.8 seconds remaining to complete an 82-yard drive in the final 2:12 that gave the Scots a 31-28 win over Cheverus for the Class A state championship Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium.
Neither team had ever lost in a state final. Something had to give.
Forcing a Cheverus punt, Bonny Eagle (10-1) got the ball back on its 18 with 2:12 left.
“We had one last drive to win it and we gave it our all,” said Dubiel, a junior. “Everyone was bringing everyone else up.”
Dubiel threw an incomplete pass on first down. On second down he handled off to Jon Woods, who gained 21 yards. The Scots wouldn’t pass again, instead hitching their wagon to Woods, Dubiel and their line.
“When you have a guy like Woods, why not give it to him?” said Dubiel.
An 11-yard run by Woods brought it to midfield, then his 20-yard run and a personal foul on Cheverus (10-1) for a late hit gave Bonny Eagle the ball at the 15 with 1:35 left. Three more runs by Woods got it to the 6 and a fourth-and-1.
Dubiel went straight ahead through a good hole to score. Woods carried six times for 51 yards on the winning drive.
“I saw a hole and ran through it,” said Dubiel.
It’s a play that’s been Bonny Eagle’s bread and butter for years.
“We call it our quarterback wrap,” said Coach Kevin Cooper. “It’s our favorite play. We’re able to run it behind linemen Brandon Johnson and Isaiah Reynolds. We put it in Zach’s hands and let him make a play.”
The Stags got one final crack. At their 31, a pass down the sideline from Ethan Jordan intended for Sam Cross fell incomplete, a screen to Cody O’Brien only gained a couple yards, and a final heave with 4.5 seconds left was intercepted by Woods.
It was a back-and-forth game. Bonny Eagle led three times, and Cheverus tied it twice and took a lead once.
That lead, 28-24 late in the third quarter, came after Cheverus took advantage of the wind to score 14 points in 2:39. The Stags drove deep early in the fourth quarter and tried a 31-yard field goal by Patrick Mourmouras that was wide.
Bonny Eagle then made one first down before having to punt. Looking to run time off the clock, Cheverus made two first downs, the first on a neat spin move by Joe Fitzpatrick on third down for eight yards and another when Bonny Eagle jumped offsides. The Stags couldn’t get a third and punted, giving Bonny Eagle its final chance.
Cheverus punted from the Bonny Eagle 30 on fourth-and-8. Cheverus Coach John Wolfgram said there was no question about punting.
“It’s difficult to pick up 8 yards,” said Wolfgram. “We wanted to make them drive the field. We didn’t punt the ball well. We were hoping to get the ball inside the 10.
“Bonny Eagle is a very explosive team. It was that explosiveness that won them the game. I thought we played a very good football game. We answered them three or four times, we just couldn’t stop them in the end. We just came up a little short.”
Bonny Eagle showed its big- play capabilities early when Matt Smith, showing breakaway speed, scored on a 66-yard run straight up the middle on the Scots’ first series.
Cheverus responded on some strong running by O’Brien, who carried four straight times on a 65-yard, nine-play scoring drive. His 26-yard run on second down brought the ball to the 9. Two plays later, Fitzpatrick scored from the 4.
Bonny Eagle took a 14-7 lead on a 75-yard pass play from Dubiel to Ben Malloy. Cheverus tied it again on a 1-yard run by Fitzpatrick with 23 seconds remaining before halftime, but the Scots came right back when Dubiel passed to Woods for 35 yards to the 16, set up by Woods’ kickoff return on which Fitzpatrick might have made a saving tackle.
After an incomplete pass, the Scots set up for a field goal. Linemen Reynolds booted it through from 33 yards for a 17-14 halftime lead.
Joe Bissonnette scored on a 54-yard end sweep for Bonny Eagle to make it 24-14 with 8:37 left in the third quarter. The Stags, taking advantage of the wind and a 12-yard Bonny Eagle punt, got back into it quickly.
A 38-yard run by Fitzpatrick brought the ball to the 3, and Cheverus scored on a fourth-and-1 pass from Jordan to Cross to make it 24-21 after the PAT.
O’Brien scored the go-ahead touchdown for Cheverus moments later.
Dubiel completed 8 of 15 passes for 150 yards and rushed for 24 yards. Woods carried 17 times for 86 yards.
Fitzpatrick carried 31 times for 117 yards and O’Brien had 91 yards on 17 carries. Jordan was 6 of 11 passing for 52 yards.
Afterwards, Dubiel planted a big kiss on the Gold Ball.
“I’ve dreamed about this for a long time,” he said. “It’s been a while since Bonny Eagle has won a state title.
“We knew we were going to get a dogfight from Cheverus. We knew that Cheverus was going to pound the ball. We had to match that. It was a back-and-forth game. We had to give it our all.”
Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at:[email protected]Twitter: TomChardPPH