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By Dave Buschenfeldt Sports Correspondent Holliston Tab At the end of each practice, Holliston head football coach Todd Kiley addresses his entire team. He then asks if any player wishes to speak after he is done. Last week, senior Zach Rogers took Kiley up on his offer. "He stood up and said how much this season meant to him," Kiley said. "He was going to leave it all on the field (on Friday night). That inspired the rest of the group." Rogers' inspired play helped lead the Panthers (2-3, 1-2 Tri-Valley League) back into the win column with a 27-14 victory over Ashland at Kamitian Field. The fullback finished the game with 17 carries for 126 yards and a touchdown, and he also played well defensively. "We really wanted to win this one," Rogers said. "Things didn't start out so good at the beginning of the season, so this was a big win." Turnovers once again hurt Holliston at the beginning of the game. After a scoreless first quarter, an 18-yard run by Rogers set up the Panthers in the Ashland red zone. Holliston quarterback Joe Santos mishandled the next snap, however, and the Clockers recovered the loose ball. The Panthers' defense forced a three-and-out, and co-captain Chris Vaillant returned the punt 37-yards, setting Holliston up deep in Ashland territory again. A Rogers 5-yard touchdown run was called back for holding, but just three plays later, Santos found a wide-open Jon Neal for a 7-yard touchdown. Mike Silverstein's extra point gave the Panthers a 7-0 halftime lead. "He's new to the position," Kiley said of his junior field general. "We toned it back a notch, so he's executing the things we want him to execute. He's doing what he should be doing." Santos led Holliston on an eight-play scoring drive to open the second half. Rogers finished things off with a 10-yard touchdown run, putting the Panthers up 13-0. Ashland answered with a touchdown of its own, but Mark Petercuskie's 23-yard touchdown gave Holliston a 12-point advantage. An Ashland touchdown cut the lead to five, but junior Matt Bellomo's 5-yard touchdown run sealed the win for the Panthers. "I think it was really a team effort," co-captain Derek Wilson said of Holliston's first TVL win. "The team finally turned it up and all worked together. We turned up the intensity." It did not hurt that the Panthers were playing at home for the first time in four weeks, following a tough three-game road stint. "It always helps to be in front of the home crowd and to have that momentum and energy," Wilson said. Vaillant agreed. "We have good fans," he said. "They support us a lot. The Panthers enjoyed playing their first game on the new turf at Kamitian Field. "(The turf) is great," co-captain Brendan Shea said. "It's a lot better than the mud and stuff we played on last year. It's as good as it gets." Holliston's players are happy to be back on the winning track and they hope to string a few victories together. "I think we're doing a really good job of sticking together," Shea said. "We had some tough losses (and) it would've been easy for everyone to start fighting and pointing fingers. We didn't really do that, so that was big." The Panthers captains were unanimous when asked about their goal for the rest of the season. "I think, obviously, we'd like to win the rest of our games and get in the hunt for the (Tri-Valley League) title," Wilson said. "I think we still have a good shot." Shea knows that it will not be easy, however. "We've got some tough games," he said. "But that's what you live for, right?" Kiley's goals for his team are focused more short-term. "The goal is to play Holliston football each and every day, each and every game," he said. "If we take care of our responsibilities, the wins will take care of themselves."
Metrowest Daily News: HOLLISTON -- Senior captain Zach Rogers enjoyed a big night as Holliston held off visiting Norton for a Tri-Valley League victory. Rogers ran for 130 yards and a pair of 1-yard scores on 20 carries and also turned in a strong game on defense from his defensive end position as Holliston improved to 3-3 (2-2 TVL). Holliston opened the scoring on a 14-yard run by quarterback Joe Santos in the first. But the Panthers missed the conversion, and Norton (2-4, 0-4 TVL) answered with a 60-yard run by John Marcott and a Mike Doyle run for the two-point conversion as the Lancers took an 8-6 lead after one period. Holliston took control in the middle frames with Rogers scoring in the second and third quarters. Santos hit Mike Stone for the two-point conversion after the first for a 14-8 lead at halftime, but the rush failed after the second score to leave Holliston up 20-8 after three quarters. Norton made things interesting with a 4-yard scoring play from Chris Pinteiro to Nick Beatrice in the fourth. Jeff Moore's PAT cut it to 20-15, but the Lancers could get no closer. Middle linebacker Derek Wilson led Holliston's defensive effort, finishing the night with 11 tackles. Holliston next plays at undefeated Medfield on Friday (7 p.m.).
Holliston 27, Ashland 14 By Chris Klingenberg / Daily News Correspondent HOLLISTON -- Behind the hard running and hard hitting of senior fullback Zach Rogers, Holliston overcame 12 penalties and powered past visiting Ashland last night, 27-14, in a Tri-Valley League game. Rogers finished the game with 126 yards on 17 carries and scored a touchdown in the victory, and he also chipped in on defense. On Ashland's final offensive play of the game, Rogers came from his right end position to sack quarterback Andrew Babb to seal the Panthers' victory. "We really wanted to win this one. Things didn't start out so good at the beginning of the season, so this was a big win," said Rogers. The senior said he relished is playing both sides of the ball. "I like going both ways because it keeps me in the game," he said. "Sometimes I get tired, but when you are in the game you don't really think about it." As the first quarter came to an end, the Panthers had the ball at the Ashland 36-yard line. After an 18-yard run by Rogers, it seemed like Holliston was on its way into the end zone. On the next play, however, Holliston quarterback Joe Santos had problems with the snap, and the Clockers recovered the loose ball to end the drive. Ashland (1-4, 0-3 TVL) was forced to punt after three plays. Chris Valliant had a return of 37 yards to set up the Panthers deep in Ashland territory again. Rogers appeared to score on a 5-yard plunge up the middle, but the play was called back because of holding. Just three plays later, on fourth down, Santos connected with a wide-open Jon Neal for a 7-yard touchdown. Mike Silverstein banged home the extra point to give Holliston the 7-0 halftime lead. "We started out slow in the first half offensively, but I thought we responded well and bounced back in the second half," said Ashland head coach David DiGirolamo. "I am proud of the way we played and the kids really battled to the end." Holliston (2-3, 1-2 TVL) put together an impressive eight-play drive to start the second half. Rogers capped off the drive with a 10-yard touchdown run to give his team a 13-0 lead after a failed conversion run. The Clockers answered right back with a 7-yard touchdown run from Mark Piccioli. Andrew Babb kicked the extra point to cut the lead to 13-7. It seemed like every time Ashland started to make a run, Holliston would answer right back. Mark Petercuskie took a handoff 23 yards up the middle for a touchdown and a 19-7 lead. "I challenged the kids this week to play Holliston football," said Holliston head coach Todd Kiley. "We played very hard tonight and Ashland battled right with us." Two plays later, Ashland answered back. Babb connected with Jeff Borgeshi (2 catches, 82 yards, TD) on a 71-yard scoring strike. Babb then split the uprights to make the score 19-14. The Panthers quickly marched back down the field. Junior Matt Bellomo scored on a 5-yard touchdown run to put the game out of reach. "Tonight we showed that when we come to play we are going to be a tough team to beat," said Kiley. "This is a good win for us tonight. We had a lot of penalties, but that is something we will work on." Holliston will host Norton on Friday and Ashland will host Bellingham.
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."
By Dave Henry / Daily News Correspondent MEDWAY -- When you run the option attack, it helps to have a lot of options, and, boy, does Medway head coach Mike Regan have options. Wide receiver Corey Marcus scored three times, while captains Alan McCarthy and Randy Casey added rushing TDs, as the Mustangs used a decisive 34-6 victory over Holliston last night at Hanlon Field to send a message to the Tri-Valley League in both teams' TVL opener. "This was a big win for us," said Marcus, who hauled in TD receptions of 13 and 8 yards. "They handed it to us last year, so it's a big win, and a great start to the season." It also didn't hurt that Medway (3-0, 1-0) picked off Holliston junior quarterback Joe Santos six times, including three by Casey. "We were on the other side of almost every one of these games last year, so you have to give them credit," said Holliston coach Todd Kiley, who was without star running back Dave Menapace. "They are an experienced team that runs their offense very well. Obviously the turnovers hurt, but I think they outplayed us. But, we'll improve and get back in this thing." The Panthers (1-2, 0-1), who routed Medway, 30-8, last season, might have known they were in trouble from the start. On the Mustangs' first possession, quarterback Andrew Tkowski ran a keeper around the left end for 16 yards, but the ball flew out of his hands and Marcus scooped it up and sped 60 yards downfield for the game's first score. Tyler McNamara's PAT kick put Medway up 7-0. Holliston's defense limited the damage in the first half, with Zach Rogers blocking a field goal and Brendan Shea recovering a Medway fumble on the Holliston 5-yard line. However, Medway finally capitalized on Holliston's third turnover of the game. Casey picked off a pass at the Holliston 24 and returned it 22 yards to the 2. After tripping on the turf on the first play from scrimmage, McCarthy (15 rushes, 82 yards) went around the left side into the corner of the end zone for a 4-yard score with 4:05 left in the half. On the ensuing possession, Ryan Tkowski intercepted an overthrown pass at the Holliston 45 and returned it to the 24. Two plays later, Casey (4 carries, 63 yards) took a handoff on a counter and dashed in untouched, giving Medway a 21-0 lead with 2:22 before the break. "I just think everyone came together," said Casey, who now has six TDs on the season. "It starts in practice and carries into the game Friday." Despite the turnovers, Santos' and the Panthers' confidence wasn't shaken. Santos (10-of-27, 224 yards) ran the two-minute offense to perfection, completing passes of 11 and 39 yards, before hitting Chris Vaillant (6 catches, 142 yards) for a 20-yard TD with 1:21 left. After holding the Mustangs to 101 yards of total offense (57 rushing) in the first half, Holliston's defense stopped Medway on its first two possessions of the second. The Medway defense responded. After McNamara sacked Santos and Andrew Tkowski made a great breakup on a deep ball to Vaillant, Holliston was forced to punt. A high snap forced Mark Petercuskie into a poor punt, and Medway took over on the Holliston 39. Mustangs' QB Andrew Tkowski (5-of-12, 86 yards) hit Marcus over the middle for 18 yards, then tossed a beautiful fade to the 6-foot-2 target for a 13-yard TD and 28-6 lead with 55 seconds left in the third quarter. "The ball bounced for us a little," Regan said. "We did some nice things defensively. We have some good athletes in the secondary and they do what is asked of them and they make plays." Marcus added an 8-yard TD reception with 5:19 remaining. "We're known as an option team, so when we throw the ball, we go for a lot," said Marcus (4 catches, 83 yards). The Mustangs have now won three of the last four meetings with Holliston and are 4-0 at Hanlon Field. The Medway defense has created 14 turnovers (10 interceptions) in three games. "I have to fault my play calling, too," Kiley said. "I put my quarterback under a lot of pressure. It was really only his second start of the season. I think we'll all learn from this one."