Air Attack

Posted by Andrea Murphy on Sep 30 2005 at 05:00PM PDT
HOPKINTON -- The passing game dominated the play of the Hopkinton and Holliston football teams last night. And it wasn't just off the arms of the quarterbacks. In fact, roles reversed in the seventh minute of the second quarter, when 5-foot-7 Hopkinton senior running back Craig Sager took a handoff and threw an unexpected 8-yard touchdown pass to starting quarterback Brian Doyle to clinch a 23-8 win for the Hillers over Tri-Valley League rival Holliston. "I'm not really, per se, the go-to guy on this team," Sager said of his 30 yards catching and 6 rushing -- and don't forget his 8 passing yards that recaptured the lead for Hopkinton, 13-8. "We use me on the trick plays." The Hillers (3-1, 2-0 TVL) came out strong and made their cheerleaders start doing push-ups on the sidelines early, scoring on a 28-yard toss from Doyle to sophomore Paul Ostrander on Hopkinton's first drive of the game. Just over six minutes later, the Panthers (1-3, 0-2 TVL) took the 8-7 lead when junior quarterback Joe Santos connected with senior Jon Neal from 12 yards out, followed by a successful two-point conversion. Neal caught Santos' high, wabbling pass from his knees. "Joe's learning," said Holliston coach Todd Kiley. "He's a great athlete and he will be a great quarterback. He's eventually gonna be the quarterback that we're looking for." But that was the last time the Panthers graced the scoreboard. Hopkinton, on the other hand, spread out its four scores, notching one each quarter. In the third, Hiller running back Jon Stickney (88 rushing yards) ran a first-and-goal 7 yards into the end zone, bringing his team's lead to 20-8 after a Mark Sanborn extra point. Hopkinton continued to control the game through the fourth and finished off the scoring with a Sanborn field goal with just over seven left. By that time, the cheerleaders' arms were just too tired for 23 more. "We got beat up tonight," Kiley said. "They out-powered us, they out-tackled us -- they beat us in all phases of tonight's game. Bottom line." In the second half, the Hiller defense kept Holliston's offense to just 47 yards, but don't overlook Santos. Despite a less than successful second half (7 yards rushing, 23 passing with 3 INTs), the quarterback threw for 89 yards in the first two quarters. "I thought the team played extremely hard today," said Hopkinton coach David Hughes, who notched win No. 195 last night. "They hit very well with Holliston. But we had a lot of grit and determination out there. The kids executed very well on their blocking assignments. I thought our defense was coming of age." Doyle, only 5-foot-9 himself, threw for 80 yards on the night. He also displayed his own quickness and agility, carrying the football for 41 yards. "He is small," Hughes said Doyle, "but he's very athletic and extremely intelligent - he really is."


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