TYNGSBOROUGH – The Littleton Tigers turned around from a sluggish first half to dominate the second half against the Tyngsborough Tigers and emerge with a 32-6 victory Friday night at Peirce Field.
With the win, Littleton clinched the Midland-Wachusett C Division title and put a stranglehold on the top seed in the MIAA Division 6 Central playoffs. It was their fourth consecutive division crown, after winning the Mid-Wach D each of the past three years.
Tied 6-6 at halftime, the Tigers found their second wind and rattled off 26 unanswered points in the second half. It started with a 12-play, 84-yard drive capped off by a 3-yard touchdown plunge by Griffin Shoemaker. Connor Bassett (9-of-20, 157 yards; 15 carries, 95 yards, one rushing touchdown) fielded his own fumble and dove in for the two-point conversion to make it 14-6, and Littleton would not look back from there.
In the fourth quarter, Littleton’s Nick Fontanella took over to put the game out of reach. He tallied 66 of his 84 all-purpose yards and all three of his touchdowns in the final frame. He was also responsible for one of the most impressive plays of the game, a 12-yard reception on a first-half touchdown drive that he wrestled free from a Tyngsborough defensive back, turning a sure interception into a momentum-saving grab.
The Littleton defense made yet another statement. They still have not allowed more than six points in any game this season – four shutouts and three six-pointers. They sacked Tyngsborough quarterback Kyle Laforge four times and intercepted him twice.
“Defense has been what we hang our hat on,” Littleton head coach Mike Lynn said. “We weren’t as solid on defense in the first half as we have been all year, but in the second half, the defense really showed up. They cranked it up in the second half. We’re pretty proud of the effort.”
The victory came at a cost, however. Fontanella injured his MCL on defense in the fourth quarter.
“He’s one of our best guys, and we just have to hope for the best,” Lynn said. “He had a great game, and we just have to wait and see what they say at the emergency room.”
After both teams failed to score on their opening drive, Tyngsboro got on the board first late in the first quarter. Starting at their own 5 after Kyle Corkum intercepted Connor Bassett on fourth down for Littleton, Tyngsboro went 95 yards in 15 plays, converting three third downs along the way. Jake Keenan (91 all-purpose yards) finished off the drive with a 19-yard touchdown rush, but Tyngsborough could not finish the two-point conversion, and they led 6-0 with 2:13 left in the opening frame.
It was the first time Littleton (7-0) had trailed all season, and the frustration continued with two more unsuccessful drives in the first half. Even on their biggest play of the game, a 55-yard flea flicker from Bassett to Joey DeCoste, Tyngsborough (5-2) came away with a victory, as Keenan and Jason Wojcik teamed up to strip DeCoste of the ball and take possession at their own 4.
But Littleton dusted themselves off, forced a punt, and finally got on the scoreboard with less than a minute left in the first half. Bassett completed three passes for 57 yards, then dove into the end zone from inside the 1 to tie the game.
Littleton nearly took the lead before halftime after recovering a fumble on the ensuing kick return, but Daniel Perry batted a would-be touchdown pass away from Hunter Miller as time expired. Still, it gave Littleton all the momentum going into halftime.
“We didn’t play well in the first half,” Lynn said. “We made some mental errors and some physical errors. We went into halftime and regrouped said ‘We’re a better football team than what we’re showing right now… I was hoping we could come out in the second half and make the plays we’ve been making all season to get us here.”