BILLERICA — In every way, their backs were against the wall, but somehow the Shawsheen Tech football team was able to knock it down.
On Saturday afternoon, the Rams hosted Bedford, one of the top Division 4 teams in the state, who also entered the game with a superior quarterback, a much bigger offensive and defensive line, and the upper hand after last year’s 42-14 spanking over the Rams in Week 1.
Trailing 7-0 after the first 38 seconds of the game and 20-6 early in the second quarter, Shawsheen was able to pull out an incredible comeback. A Ryan Copson interception set up the game-winning touchdown with 3:27 to go, and Copson put the nail in the coffin by intercepting his second pass at the Rams’ 8-yard line on the final play of the game, giving Shawsheen the dramatic 30-26 victory at Cassidy Field.
“I am so proud of these guys, just so proud,” said Shawsheen head coach Al Costabile. “We took a big blow at the beginning of the game and a lot of teams would have folded by then. We took (Bedford’s) blows, we took everything they had and these kids just fought back. They are so resilient and I’m just so proud of all of the players and so proud of all of my coaches. I’m a lucky guy.”
Bedford took a 26-23 lead just six seconds into the fourth quarter. Shawsheen marched down the field and eventually went for a 24-yard field goal, but it missed wide left.
Three plays later, Copson intercepted his first pass at the Bedford 30 and returned it to the 23. Mavrick Bourdeau gave the Rams the lead for good, catching a 10-yard pass from quarterback Sidney Tildsley for a 30-26 after the extra point.
Bedford then started its last drive on its own 25 and after moving it up to the 40, a perfectly executed hook-and-ladder play moved the chains down to the Rams’ 11 yard line with 1:43 to go. Two penalties pushed the Bucs back 10 yards, which was followed by two running plays by quarterback Eric Miles. With the ball on the Rams’ 12, Bedford ran the clock down to 16 seconds, but Copson’s pick on the next snap ended the game.
“I saw the wide receiver going and I saw the tight end coming around, so I just stayed there and I got the pick,” said Copson. “I did it for my team. I ran it back as far as I could and then slid. All my boys then came out on the field to celebrate the win. This win is very win. We lost to this team last year. We knew that we had them on the schedule and wanted to get revenge and technically we did, 30-26.”
Copson admitted that it was very difficult to read Miles, who finished with 17 rushes for 186 yards and two touchdowns, and completed 13-of-18 passes for 210 yards and a pair of scores.
“He’s just such a tough quarterback. I give him all of the credit. He’s a very good player. He would do the pullbacks (faking a hand-off and then keeping it) and run right up the middle. Those were so tough to read. He’s fast and he’s a big kid,” said Copson.
Copson was just one of many players who had big days for the Rams. Besides his two picks, he caught a 10-yard TD pass from Tildsley, who also had a big game completing 17-of-32 passes for 162 yards and two touchdown passes. Bourdeau completed two halfback option passes, both to Dyllon Pratt, for a combined 100 yards, and had four receptions for 35 yards and three rushes for 20 more yards.
“This was a tough game. It takes a lot (to come back) and you can’t do it by yourself,” said Bourdeau. “You need your entire team working together and digging deep. We worked through it, we kept going and going. Obviously last year (when we lost to them) wasn’t the same story, but today we kept going back-and-forth and made sure that they didn’t work harder than us. I couldn’t be any happier for me and my boys.”