NORTHBRIDGE, Mass. — The Northbridge High Rams, behind another stellar performance from quarterback Matt Phelan, blew out the Nipmuc Warriors, 44-6, Saturday afternoon during Northbridge High School's Homecoming Day.
Phelan passed for two touchdowns, ran for two more and caught a touchdown pass from Ben O’Donnell on a bit of razzle-dazzle just before the first half ended.
“Our offensive line did a great job all day today. We started off slow, but they came through big and they played a heckuva game,” Phelan said.
Northbridge jumped out to a two-score lead. After the Rams took the opening kickoff, Phelan moved them down the field before rifling an 11-yard touchdown pass to Dalton LaChappelle just inbounds down the right side.
Nipmuc (3-3) turned the ball over on its first snap of the game when quarterback John Jango’s pass was intercepted and returned to the Nipmuc 27-yard line. It took the Rams just two plays to convert as Phelan passed down to the 1-yard line, then took it across on a keeper to make the score 14-0.
Nipmuc didn’t quit, however, and went on a 56-yard scoring drive of its own, led mostly by running back Kyle Braile, who did some nice work inside. Facing a fourth-and-3 from the 18, Jango hit Zach Giardini in the corner of the end zone to make it 14-6.
Northbridge answered after intercepting Jango again, with the Rams' Dan Clasby returning it to the Nipmuc 35-yard line. Northbridge quickly scored, with Phelan taking it in from the 4-yard line to make it 21-6, and the game turned.
On Northbridge's next possession, the Rams ran a flea-flicker, with a pass from O’Donnell that found Phelan streaking down the left sideline untouched for a 34-yard touchdown. That made it 28-6. A safety two plays later made it 30-6 and the rout was on.
On first down, Phelan threw an arcing pass to O’Donnell, who blew past both safeties for the score. “Ben was getting on my case a little earlier about not getting him the ball,” Phelan joked. “He said he was getting it to me (flea flicker). He was running even, so I put the ball up and he was able to make a play on it,” he said.
Northbridge scored on its first possession of the second half and then emptied the bench, getting the subs some quality snaps. “It was a nice, solid win," coach Ken LaChappelle said. " I thought our defense responded and didn’t give them much. That early interception, as we scored, was really big.”
“I was very happy. In all aspects of the game, we were good today,” he said. Asked about the Warriors bringing pressure early on Phelan, LaChappelle said, “Yes, they did, but then Matt broke that pressure with a really good play. When that happens, it changes the way opponents play defense. … I’m glad he’s on our side,” he said with a smile.
Next week, the Rams (6-0) travel to take on Shepherd Hill (5-1) in Dudley.