Second-half surge powers Rivers past Groton

GROTON – The Groton Zebras scored the first touchdown of the game, but the Rivers Red Wings took care of all the scoring from there en route to a 33-7 victory at the Groton School Saturday.

The Red Wings put the game away by scoring touchdowns on each of their first three drives in the second half. They opened with a five-play, 65-yard drive that took just 2:28 off the clock, with only one play not resulting in a first down or touchdown. Jamari Venter (115 all-purpose yards) ran it in from one yard out, and with the extra point, Rivers was up 19-7.

After forcing a Groton three-and-out and a short punt that set them up at the Groton 39, Rivers went to work again, as Justen Voghel (11-of 13, 174 yards) hooked up with wide receiver Azar Swain (124 receiving yards) for a 24-yard touchdown pass, the second of two connections between the two on the day.

Rivers would put the icing on the cake on the first play of the fourth quarter as Venters notched his second rushing touchdown of the game from five yards out.

The Rivers defense ensured that Groton could not climb back into it, holding them to just 16 yards of offense in the second half.

Groton opened the game on fire, rushing for three first downs on their first three plays with three different players. But after gaining 12 yards on the fourth play, Taggart Eymer, the fourth different ball carrier on the drive, had the ball stripped, leading to a Rivers recovery.



The Groton defense forced a three-and-out after the fumble, however, and that led to their only touchdown of the game. Once again, four different Groton players carried the ball, with John Beatty (nine carries, 78 yards; one sack) punctuating the drive with a 25-yard touchdown rush.

Rivers would retaliate on their next possession, with Voghel connecting with Swain for a five-yard touchdown pass on 4th & goal to complete a 10-play, 61-yard drive. Groton blocked the extra point, however, and Rivers trailed 7-6.

Rivers would take the lead for good in the second quarter, needing just two plays to cover 47 yards for the score. Venter scampered in from 19 yards after Voghel found Swain for 28 yards.

Quarterback Arthur Jelin (71 all-purpose yards) and running back Will Richardson (10 carries, 84 yards) played well on offense for Groton (2-3), who will travel to St. Paul’s Saturday for a 3:15 p.m. kickoff.

For more Groton sports coverage, visit TheGrotonLine.com.

G-D has no answers for Fitchburg in 46-0 romp

FITCHBURG – The Groton-Dunstable Crusaders were blown out of the proverbial water Friday night by the Fitchburg Red Raiders in a 46-0 shellacking at Crocker Field.

Things looked bleak for the Crusaders right from the opening drive as a high snap on 3rd & 7 was recovered by Fitchburg’s Bruce Johnson to set up the Red Raiders on the G-D 39 yard line. On the ensuing drive, Darius Flowers (8-for-12, 108 yards) threw his first of three touchdown passes, a 10-yard strike to Nick Myles (five receptions, 62 yards) to put the Red Raiders up 7-0 with 6:50 to play in the first quarter.

Everything that could go wrong did for the Crusaders. Countless missed tackles, five botched snaps, two fumbles, and an interception led to the Red Raiders outgaining them, 287-14. The Red Raiders could have had more yardage, but they were afforded short fields thanks to three G-D turnovers and great special teams play, including an 85-yard punt return for a touchdown by Flowers in the second quarter and a blocked punt returned for a touchdown by Andrew Lara in the third. Lara caught the punt the split second it left Eric Yanchenko’s foot and ran it in untouched.

“We didn’t show up,” G-D head coach Derek Asadoorian said. “Fitchburg played pretty well, and we helped them out. It was pretty ugly.”

Even when the Crusaders were in a position to make a stop and get the ball back, they couldn’t hold up. This was exemplified late in the second quarter after an interception by Johnson set up the Red Raiders at the G-D 20. On 4th & 17, Flowers hooked up with Manny Payton for a 17-yard touchdown pass, even with two Crusaders defenders blanketing him.



The Red Raiders wrapped up their first-half scoring with a safety by Lara to go into halftime up 27-0.

The Crusaders tried to muster some momentum with an onside kick to start play, but it went out of bounds and gave the Raiders excellent field position again, this time at their own 44-yard line. That would lead to a Flowers 7-yard touchdown pass to Payton.

“We’ve had a lot of adversity,” Asadoorian said. “We’re lacking some leadership. We’re trying to find out identity. It hasn’t been easy with two tough games the past two weeks… we couldn’t pull them out, but it was nice to see that we battled, and tonight we didn’t have it. Hopefully we can get back to work and get better for next week.”

The Crusaders’ 2014 campaign has seen a promising 2-0 start give way to four straight losses. A win would have all but clinched a spot in the MIAA Division 4 Central playoffs, as they would have gotten bonus points for defeating a Division 2 team in Fitchburg (2-4). Now they must win next Friday at homecoming against Westborough in order to have a shot at qualifying.

“We just have to play our game and execute,” Asadoorian said when asked what it would take to beat Westborough. “We have to rally around each other. It’s a team game. We have to get a good all-around effort.”

For more G-D sports coverage, visit TheGrotonLine.com.

G-D Girls’ Cross Country Remains Undefeated

GROTON – The Groton-Dunstable Crusaders girls’ cross country team improved to 8-0 on the season with a 25-30 victory over Marlborough Friday.

Freshman Emily Wilson continued her phenomenal season with her fourth first place finish, at a time of 20:06. Sarah Mullins, Samantha Ferraro, Megan Odell, and Kate Nash also finished in the top ten for the Crusaders, who were running without captain Emily McAuliffe.



The Crusaders have two meets remaining: at home vs. Ayer-Shirley on Wednesday the 15th and at Westborough on Monday the 20th, before the road to States begins with the Midland-Wachusett League Meet at Ghiloni Park in Marlborough on Saturday, October 25th.

For more G-D sports coverage, visit TheGrotonLine.com.

G-D boys’ soccer qualifies for state tournament with 3-0 win

GROTON – Matt Tornaritis had a goal and an assist as the Groton-Dunstable Crusaders won posted a second straight 3-0 victory Thursday, this time over the Quabbin Panthers at G-DRHS.

It was also the second straight game for the Crusaders that was scoreless at halftime. Tornaritis opened the scoring in the 49th minute as he hit a free kick pas the Panther wall and into the lower corner, beating Quabbin goalie Garrett Maggio. Mitch Wheeler scored from close range off a feed from Tornaritis five minutes later. Matt Krikorian rounded out the scoring in the 67th minute as he took a pass from Eric Niemoller and blasted it in near post.



It was the third straight shutout victory for the Crusaders, including Tuesday’s 3-0 win over Nashoba and Saturday’s 1-0 decision over Dracut.

The Crusaders controlled the offensive tempo throughout the game, outshooting Quabbin 21-2. They also had five corner kicks compared to just two for the Panthers (2-7-3, 1-5 Mid-Wach B), and committed fewer fouls (9-4).

Luke Costello, Tyler Potras, Gabe Dingle, and Matt Straw also played well in the win for the Crusaders, (9-3-1, 6-0 Mid-Wach B) who clinched a spot in the MIAA Division 1 Central tournament. They will travel to Marlboro Tuesday night at 7 p.m.

For more G-D sports coverage, visit TheGrotonLine.com.

Second half outburst propels G-D boys’ soccer over Nashoba

GROTON – A fluke goal early in the second half opened the floodgates for the Groton-Dunstable Crusaders to come away with a 3-0 victory over the Nashoba Chieftains Tuesday at G-DRHS.

Coming into Tuesday’s game, the Chieftains stood at 1-5-2, but had not allowed more than two goals in a game. And after a scoreless, evenly-matched first half, it looked like the trend would continue.

“(Nashoba is} well coached,” G-D head coach Sean Wisbey said. “They didn’t have the offensive power that they’ve had in the past couple of years, but they still play good soccer.”

But the Crusaders got on the board in the 44th minute. Eric Niemoller lofted the ball towards the net, and the Nashoba goalie went up to haul it in, but didn’t secure it properly and it slipped through his hands and into the net.

“That’s something that will deflate a team,” Wisbey said. “I felt for him.”

89 seconds later, Matt Straw took a feed from Gabe Dingle and put a shot off the underside of the crossbar and into the net to put the Crusaders up 2-0. They would put the icing on the cake in the 53rd minute as Dingle took a throw in from Tyler Poitras on the left side and delivered a cross to Dean Tornaritis, who headed it home.

“I knew it was going to be a game that was going to go into the second half competitively,” Wisbey said. “They didn’t start out well in the second half. We knew we had to come out and score goals early in the second half to get the advantage.”

With starting goalie Chris Buzan out for another week with an injury and backup Nick Resca out for the season, the Crusaders were forced to put midfielder Tyler Belanger in the gray jersey. He turned in an outstanding performance, making six saves, five in the first half, en route to his second straight clean sheet.

“We’re starting to play better team defense,” Wisbey said. “Thing are slowly starting to come together defensively. When you play big teams like Algonquin and Shrewsbury, you can’t give up goals. They’re going to be tight games.”

The Crusaders have been treading water nicely with injuries, and with most of those players coming back in the next couple of weeks, including Buzan and Pat Keating, that can only mean good things for the Crusaders as they make a run for the state tournament.

“I’ve got five guys sidelined right now,” Wisbey said. “We’re starting to become a healthy team again… We know we have the offense to score goals… I’m pleased to be where we are.”

The Crusaders (8-3-1, 5-0-0 Mid-Wach B) improved to 4-0 at home. They outshot Nashoba 20-9, had all seven corner kicks in the game, and committed just five fouls to Nashoba’s 10. They can clinch a postseason berth with a win or tie Thursday at home against Quabbin at 4 p.m.

For more G-D sports news, visit TheGrotonLine.com.

Introducing the Local Sports Productions Bullpen

As you may or may not know, I run Local Sports Productions entirely by myself. I write all the articles, I record all the videos, I produce all the broadcasts. But sometimes I get a slew of requests for help that leaves me able to only pick one, and I hate disappointing my clients. That’s where you come in.

Today I’m announcing the formation of the Local Sports Productions Bullpen, a group of freelancers like me who will help me fulfill the needs of my clients when multiple assignments pile up in one day. Like an internship, it’s a way to get exposure and experience. Unlike an internship, you’re actually going to get paid.

See, I don’t believe in working for free, so I’m not going to ask you to work for me for free either. That being said, I will not pay you directly; rather, I will make arrangements with my clients to have them pay you. In some cases this may involve filling out a W-9 with that client and/or sending them an invoice.

The LSP Bullpen is open to aspiring or experienced play-by-play announcers, writers, and videographers. Requirements include:

  • At least one year of experience as a videographer, writer, or play-by-play or color commentator for high school, college, amateur, or professional sports (freelance, volunteer, part-time, or full-time)
  • For play-by-play announcers: Laptop computer with USB headset and Audacity, mobile Wi-Fi hotspot (in your phone or as an external device)
  • For videographers: Video editing software (Windows Movie Maker or iMovie will do) and DVD burner; creation of Hudl, YouTube, or other video hosting site account may be required as well
  • For writers: Photography skills are a plus, but not required.

Please send samples of your work to sam@localsportsproductions.com. Being accepted to the Bullpen does not guarantee a regular schedule, rather it puts you on a call list for when I need backup.

TFTI

-Sam

Remote Control Episode 1 – 8/28/2014 – #swegstorm

Are you ready for some football? Here we go. Starting with Texas A&M and South Carolina.

6:02 p.m. - Duhrood – Swegstorm

6:06 p.m. - Given the issues ESPN is having getting cable companies to carry the SEC Network, this could be the smallest audience Brent Musberger will have ever broadcast to.

6:08 p.m. – There was almost no pressure by the Gamecocks on that drive. Texas A&M offense sans Manziel (Sanziel?) > South Carolina defense sans Cl- oh, for God’s sake, replay while I’m typing this?

6:09 p.m. – Right call, and gratuitous name drop of the producer to boot.

6:11 p.m. – As I was saying, Texas A&M offense sans Manziel > South Carolina defense sans Clowney.

6:12 p.m. – If there were other games going on right now, this would be the point where I change channels and start blogging another game. Alas, we wait out a Hardee’s commercial.

6:15 p.m. – Well, that pass… sucked…

6:20 p.m. – This is not how the ninth-ranked team in the nation should be performing in its home opener.

6:23 p.m. – Can somebody explain to me the random chairs dispersed among the benches in the stands?

6:27 p.m. – Even when the Gamecocks bring pressure, the Aggies get positive yardage, and, in this case, another first down.

6:30 p.m. – Too easy, and then too fancy.

6:33 p.m. – This Snackeez commercial is the most unnecessarily enthusiastic ad since Ovaltine.

6:34 p.m. – He’s human!

6:39 p.m. – Well, that’ll finally wake up the fans. 10-6.

6:42 p.m. – #swegstorm

6:44 p.m.  – Hey look! Defense!

6:52 p.m. – The second quarter opens with a painful reminder of what most of the game has been like for SC thus far.

6:55 p.m. –  I feel like A&M should be up 21-7 right now given how they’ve been moving the ball.

7:00 p.m. - At the next commercial we’re going to Wake Forest and ULM.

7:01 p.m. – That was the most awkward touchdown celebration shot I’ve ever seen. Stop staring at the dude’s junk, camera guy.

7:03 p.m. – I’ll tell you who doesn’t like Duck Dynasty. Me. I have standards.

7:04 p.m. – I’m on the fence about ULM’s camo uniforms. I’ll defer to Paul Lukas.

7:06 p.m. – I hope you folks realize I’m not exactly expecting much from this game…

7:09 p.m. – And I certainly wasn’t expecting that punt block!

7:11 p.m. – Back to A&M and SC. #swegstorm

7:12 p.m. – Solution for SC’s offense? Throw the deep ball! That’s the only way their offense has been working thus far, it seems.

7:18 p.m. – “Gamecocks have no answer on defense.” – Creepy Uncle Brent Musberger

7:18 p.m. – Back to Wake/ULM.

7:20 p.m. – I think there should be a rule that says “If your last name is Chubb, you have to be an offensive lineman or nose tackle.” At least Jumbo Elliot had the decency to be an offensive lineman.

7:22 p.m.

7:23 p.m. – Did you just say ULM has no punt or field goal team?

7:27 p.m. – Back to A&M/SC. Alabama and LSU are probably watching this game and thinking to themselves, “Is this the object of this game?”

7:28 p.m. – I know the defender had his back turned to the ball, but I wouldn’t necessarily call that interference… slapfighting on the ball doesn’t warrant interference in my book.

7:30 p.m. – As a gamer, whenever I see Jordan Mastrogiovanni’s name, I immediately think of Giovanni from the original Pokemon games. “Master Giovanni”? I wonder if he got any Team Rocket jokes when he was young.

7:39 p.m. – Kenny Hill is putting on a damn clinic right now. This is how the 2-minute drill is run, kids.

7:42 p.m. – You run all those passes, you get the defense to back off, and then BANG – option pitch. Getting pretty quiet in Columbia.

7:46 p.m. – That’s a pretty healthy hit. I wonder if that could be the difference in the game down the line.

7:49 p.m. – Well, I wouldn’t want to be in the South Carolina locker room at halftime.

7:58 p.m. – This has been a really iffy night for the ULM punter. So much for being on the Ray Guy Award watchlist. All right, now let’s go to Boise State and Ole Miss.

7:59 p.m. – That Johnny Manziel/Roger Staubach promo was pretty good…

8:02 p.m. – Quick plug for SportsPlays.com – free sports picks game where you can win real money – I’m picking Boise State +10.5 in this game. Click here to get started!

8:07 p.m. – Wow, there are more Boise State fans at this game than I thought, especially considering it looks like the entire upper deck is empty.

8:09 p.m. – Boise State? Defense? Blasphemy!

8:17 p.m. – Oof, I felt that hit. Keith Lewis!

8:19 p.m. – On to Tulane and Tulsa. Everyone from the American moved to the ACC, everyone from Conference USA moved to the American, and everyone from the Sun Belt moved to Conference USA. Realignment’s a hell of a drug.

8:21 p.m. - Back to Boise State/Ole Miss. Once again, Boise State showing signs of actual defense!

8:25 p.m. – “Disqualified from the contest”? Can’t you just say “ejected”? This is college football, man.

8:28 p.m. – Well, while this fumble call gets overturned, we go back to A&M/SC. And the Old Ball Coach™ is in a pretty deep hole that I don’t think he’s going to get out of.

8:34 p.m. – If the Gamecocks somehow win this game, Kevin Sumlin is going to have to teach his defensive backs to defend passes like soccer players in the goal box and tuck their hands in.

8:36 p.m. – Back to Tulane and Tulsa, which is looking more like an SEC game score-wise than A&M/SC.

8:38 p.m. – Five false starts in the first quarter on Ole Miss? This is practically a home game!

8:42 p.m. – While Boise State hasn’t exactly been in Cinderella status for a few years now, the disrespect towards the mid-majors still remains.

8:47 p.m. – What did I say about Boise State’s defense?

8:51 p.m. – That makes two passes to the end zone that could easily be reviewed, but that one was definitely in. And there’s still plenty of time left… but SC’s defense needs to play MUCH better.

8:53 p.m. – #swegstorm

8:56 p.m. – Only took them three hours, but the Gamecocks have apparently learned to play defense.

8:59 p.m. – Well, there are worse moments to throw a pick, but there aren’t many of them.

9:01 p.m. – If Michael Cole were calling this game – “Vintage Boise State!”

9:04 p.m. – Ian Johnson is not walking through that door.

9:08 p.m. – I don’t think we’re going to see Vanderbilt and Temple any time soon. Then again, who would want to?

9:09 p.m. – I woudn’t put it past SC to put up 24 points in 12 minutes, but if their defense isn’t going to pick up the slack, then the fans leaving early are justified.

9:13 p.m. – Aussie Aussie Aussie!

9:17 p.m. – Ole Miss is lucky to be leading at this point. Both QBs have thrown three picks each? Bring in the backups.

9:21 p.m. – Then again, if the Rebels are hitting that hard (especially on these last two plays) , it shouldn’t be that surprising they’re in the lead.

9:29 p.m. – Great interview there with Devon Walker. He and Eric LeGrand are great reminders that injuries like theirs don’t take away your value to society.

9:32 p.m. – Looks like Tulane is going to run away with this battle of the colored weather phenomena.

9:35 p.m. – With strong weather in the Nashville area, looks like I’m in live blogging purgatory for a little while.

9:40 p.m. – Shows what I know about Tulsa football.

9:46 p.m. – Break time! But for how long?

9:55 p.m. – All right, football again! This Boise State/Ole Miss game still sucks though.

9:58 p.m. – I know I’m really late to the party on this topic, but has anyone else noticed how much Boise State’s uniforms look like Florida’s?

10:08 p.m. – I know my rule is to only change the game when the current one goes to commercial, but I’m ready to switch off Boise State/Ole Miss right now.

10:10 p.m. – Ugh, finally, Rutgers and Washington State. (Never thought I’d say that.)

10:13 p.m. – Three things I don’t like about this game: 1) Rutgers’ helmets, 2) Washington State playing a home game in Seattle, and 3) Rutgers in the B1G.

10:16 p.m. – I forgot Wake/ULM was going on, but it’s about to end, so whatever.

10:18 p.m. – Back to Rutgers/WSU. Not exactly the highest-caliber B1G/Pac-12 matchup…

10:22 p.m. – Jeez, no wonder this Rutgers QB got benched for three games last year.

10:28 p.m. – After an uneventful end to the third quarter of Boise State/Ole Miss, it’s back to Rutgers/Washington State. Speaking of unremarkable…

10:34 p.m. – You know, folks, after 4 hours and 32 minutes, I think I’m going to call it a night. I didn’t go insane, but the games have slowly become more unwatchable. See you Saturday.

Remote Control primer

Remote Control, LSP’s college football live blog, debuts in 2 1/2 hours. Here’s how it works, in two simple steps:

  1. I park my rear end in front of the TV and turn on the first game of the day. Then I blog my thoughts as the game progresses. Refresh for updates.
  2. When the game goes to a commercial, I switch to another game (if available). Then I start blogging my thoughts on that game. Repeat ad nauseam.

Tonight’s slate (all times Eastern):

  • 6 p.m.: Texas A&M @ South Carolina, SEC Network
  • 7 p.m.: Wake Forest @ Louisiana-Monroe, ESPNU
  • 8 p.m.: Boise State @ Ole Miss, ESPN; Tulane @ Tulsa, CBSSN
  • 9:15 p.m.: Temple @ Vanderbilt, SEC Network
  • 10 p.m.: Rutgers @ Washington State, FS1

You can make this worthwhile and show your support by donating a little bit of your hard-earned cash to your friendly neighborhood freelance sports journalist via the Donate button on the front page. Or you can stick a big fat advertisement in the middle of the article (you must provide the image) for $40. Email me for more info.

TFTI

-Sam

Andre Chiefs win 2014 ICL Championship

The Andre Chiefs won the fifth and deciding game of the 2014 ICL Championship Series by a score of 4-0. It is their second ICL championship in three years, and they got it thanks to – what else – a stellar pitching performance by Jared Freni.

Freni had a no-hitter going through 5 2/3 innings and finished the night allowing two walks and two hits while striking out nine. He finished the postseason 3-0 with no runs (earned or unearned) allowed in 20 1/3 innings, with 28 strikeouts and a 0.934 WHIP. He has not lost a game in the postseason since the 2011 Championship Series to the Blue Sox, and even then, he redeemed himself later in the series with a 10-inning, 11-strikeout performance in a game 4 win to force a fifth and deciding game.

This was the second championship clincher that Freni pitched against the Blue Sox. In game 5 of the 2012 series he pitched a complete game six-hit shutout with five strikeouts. But perhaps his most memorable postseason performance was in game 4 of the 2013 series, when he pitched a complete-game, one-hit, 100+ pitch shutout on three days’ rest to force game 5.

Freni was supported offensively with solo shots by Mike Gedman and MVP frontrunner Johnny Welch.

To relive games 2, 3, 4, and 5 of the 2014 ICL Championship Series, or the rest of the Lexington Blue Sox season, click here to be taken to the on-demand archives. And come back tomorrow night for the premiere edition of Remote Control, a live blog of a whole day’s (or, in this case, evening’s) worth of college football action.