By Evan Freedman, BPSsports.com Correspondent
JAMAICA PLAIN — It was a tale of two halves Friday afternoon at White Stadium between the top two teams in the South Division, but Latin Academy’s strong second quarter gave them just enough of a cushion, as they held on in the final seconds to beat Brighton, 21-14.
The Dragons scored all 21 points in the second quarter, including touchdown runs by junior running back Ernest Kellough and sophomore quarterback Kyle Dance. Brighton owned the second half, scoring 14 points in the fourth quarter, but came up one play short of potentially tying the game as time expired.
Brighton lost star senior running back Andrew Maestre by injury on its first possession, which changed the complexion of this one. Bengals’ senior quarterback Jonathan Marrero carried the load, rushing 18 times for 107 yards and one touchdown. While Marrero was off a fraction throwing the ball early on, he delivered late, throwing for 140 yards in the second half.
Dragons’ Dance, known for throwing the ball to standout wide receivers, junior Alex Guerrer, and senior Shavar Lazarus, used his feet more than his arm, as he rushed for 111 yards in the first half alone. Dance did hit Guerrer with a nice 22 yard pass at the end of the half to stretch the Latin Academy lead to 21-0 at halftime.
Brighton was a different team in the second half, as their defense began to stop Dance’s keepers and Marrero was able to run the ball effectively himself. Marrero rushed for an 11 yard touchdown with 3:42 left in the game to close the gap to 21-14. After an unsuccessful onside kick, Brighton’s defense held Latin Academy on downs, giving the Bengals the ball on their 37 yard line with 25 seconds left and no time outs. After a scrambling, desperation heave nearly went the distance, the clock ran out on the Bengals as Marrero tried to run the ball from the 11 yard line but was gang tackled by Latin Academy.
“We knew it would be a close one, and it certainly was,” said Latin Academy Head Coach Rocco Zizza after the game.
Latin Academy, which now has the inside track in the South Division, has another big obstacle in their path next week, as they will take on O’Bryant. Brighton will regroup to play Dorchester. Both games are Thursday at White Stadium.
Evan Freedman is a freelance writer based on the North Shore. He also teaches at Catholic Charities North. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org