FOXBORO — The book on Catholic Memorial is to sell out against the run and make the Knights pass.
In Saturday night’s Division 2 state final, King Philip at times had success enforcing that game plan.
In the end, though, Catholic Memorial had an answer, and that was, “What else you got?”
CM connected on three touchdown passes, including two from a freshman quarterback, as the Knights pulled away for a 27-7 victory at Gillette Stadium.
With the win, CM finished 12-0, with 29 straight victories, and back-to-back Division 2 state titles. KP ended its season at 9-3 after losing the D2 game for the second year in a row.
“They had different packages,” CM coach John DiBiaso said. “When we went to heavy sets, they brought in linemen. When we went light sets, they had all the defensive backs in. We were able to throw out of the double wing, and did a good job out of that.”
“We got the best running game in the state, and we got the best passing game in the state,” CM defensive back and wide receiver Max Tucker said. “You’re going to shut one down, we’re going to do the other. That’s all. That’s it.”
CM quarterback JC Petrongolo, who finished with a 27-0 career record, played with an injured ankle and threw for 71 yards and one touchdown. Freshman Peter Bourque came on in relief and threw for 76 yards and two other scores. The running game was also effective, as Carson Harwood rushed for 89 yards and Datrell Jones had 70, but did not produce many of the big plays that the Knights are accustomed to.
Perhaps the biggest sequence came at the end of the first half. CM led, 8-7, but KP was set to receive the second-half kickoff, and would have had some momentum to keep the score there. But Bourque hit Tucker by the right pylon for a 22-yard touchdown with just 16 seconds left, and CM went into the break with a 14-7 lead.
In the second half, Tucker again struck, but this time from the other side of the ball. He made an interception near midfield and set up the next CM score. Petrongolo found Harwood out of the double wing for a 22-yard touchdown pass with 1:22 to go in the third quarter as the Knights boosted their advantage to 20-7.
CM put it away with 10:36 left in the fourth quarter as Bourque hit Jaedn Skeete for a 31-yard touchdown. That proved to be too much of a deficit for KP to overcome.
“It’s more special because these were seniors that came in when I first started at the school as freshmen,” DiBiaso said. “I’m very happy with the way they finished up. They overcame a lot of adversity this year because we lost a lot of guys to serious injury. Every time somebody got hurt, somebody else stepped up.”
KP went toe-to-toe with the heavily-favored Knights early. CM scored on the opening possession on a 4-yard Harwood rush. Mekhi Dodd’s two-point run made it 8-0.
But the Warriors hung in. Quarterback Thomas McLeish scrambled for a 4-yard touchdown on fourth and goal in the second quarter, and KP pulled to within 8-7.
That was as close as KP got, though, as CM eventually found some separation.
Catholic Memorial 27, King Philip 7
Catholic Memorial (12-0) 8 6 6 7 — 27
King Philip (9-3) 0 7 0 0 — 7
C — Carson Harwood 4 run (Mekhi Dodd rush)
K — Thomas McLeish 4 run (Matt Kelley kick)
C — Max Tucker 22 pass from Peter Bourque (pass failed)
C — Harwood 22 pass from JC Petrongolo (pass failed)
C — Jaedn Skeete 31 pass from Bourque (Garoid Stones kick)