By Justin A. Rice
FRANKLIN — At the time, Brighton High’s failure to convert on fourth-and-three from the 21 with an 8-0 lead with 2:27 to play in the third quarter had all the makings of Bill Belichick’s now-infamous decision to go for a late fourth-and-two in a 35-34 loss to the Colts last month.
Fortunately for Brighton coach James Phillips, the Bengals only gave up a touchdown to Tri-County High on Thursday night and held strong on the 2-point conversion.
Hanging on to win the Division 4A semifinal at Franklin High, the 8-6 victory sent Brighton (5-6) to its third MIAA Super Bowl in four seasons.
East Boston beat Bristol Plymouth 35-8 on Tuesday and will play Whittier in the Division 4 Super Bowl on Saturday at Bentley University.
Brighton will play Northeast Regional on Saturday, also at Bentley. The time of the game will be announced today.
“They wanted it here, they wanted it here,” Phillips said, pounding his chest. “It’s always a thrill to be able to play for a championship. I can’t say enough about my guys and my coaching staff. They worked hard and we worked hard and it paid off for us.
“We don’t have the best record but we have some good young men. We got tough kids and they showed it when it counted.”
Getting into the playoffs despite being two games under .500 thanks to O’Bryant’s victory against Latin Academy on Thanksgiving, many said Brighton didn’t deserve to be in the post season.
“This proves them wrong,” sophomore quarterback Jonathan Rosa said. “In the paper they had us beat 37-0. We proved a lot tonight, we proved them wrong.”
At the end of the first half, Brighton recovered a fumble deep in its own zone and marched the ball to the other end of the field to score with 1:29 left in the half.
Rosa flicked a screen pass to senior running back Kevin DePina for a 22-yard TD pass.
“It was just a hell of a play,” Rosa said. “They weren’t expecting it and that’s it.”
DePina also tacked on the 2-point conversion after his touchdown.
“I had confidence,” Rosa said of Phillips’ call to go for two. “I had confidence in my team and confidence in my coach. I knew we were going to get it, I had no doubts.”
Rosa picked off a pass on Tri-County’s next possession and the Bengals took a 8-0 lead into halftime.
Tri-County finally got on the board with 2:13 left in the game when Randy Harvey rush up the middle on fourth-and-inches but Harvey couldn’t punch in the 2-point conversion.
“We just stayed low and worked hard,” said senior linebacker Meterson Prezilme, who had a big sack to set up fourth down.
Tri-Country failed to recover the onsides kick when Prezilme fell on the ball.
“I can’t talk, [there’s] too much emotion,” Prezilme said. “I can’t tolerate it.”