CHELMSFORD – Having a first half like the Chelmsford Lions did in Friday’s MIAA Division 1A North football sectional quarterfinal is a cardinal sin, especially in a playoff game.
Their second half, however, was a much different story, as the no. 3 seed Lions scored 25 unanswered points and shut down the no. 6 seed Revere Patriots’ offense to come away with a 25-14 victory at Simonian Alumni Stadium.
In the first half, the Lions committed two turnovers, had three three-and-outs and were outgained 159-96. Meanwhile, the Patriots ran their offense quarterback Sullivan (136 passing yards) and Oscar Lopez (156 all-purpose yards), with the two hooking up for a 47-yard touchdown pass late in the first half. Christopher Alfaro got tough yards up the middle and punched in a touchdown rush of his own, giving them a 14-0 halftime lead.
After a three and out by Chelmsford to start the second half, Revere got great starting field position with the ball at their 45. But on their second play, quarterback Edward Sullivan threw an interception to Christian Finn. The return set up Chelmsford at Revere’s 49.
From there, and for the rest of the second half, it was the Sal Lupoli Show.
Lupoli carried the ball four times for 39 yards on the ensuing drive, including a 27-yard touchdown rush to finally put Chelmsford on the scoreboard. A missed extra point, however, kept the score at 14-6 in favor of Revere.
It wasn’t just Lupoli answering the bell in the second half. The Chelmsford defense and special teams units came up with huge stops, including two sacks, as well as a three and out on the series after Lupoli’s first touchdown.
Soon after, Lupoli struck again with a 14-yard touchdown rush, but the ensuing failed two-point conversion kept Revere in the lead at 14-12.
But once again, the Chelmsford defense put the clamps on Revere, stopping consecutive Revere kickoff returns at the 11- and 9-yard line, the former leading to a Revere fumble on the first play and setting up a Matthew Hooton 1-yard touchdown rush that gave the Lions the lead for good.
“We stayed the course,” Chelmsford head coach Dave Kaizer said. “We had somethings in the first half, but we didn’t capitalize. We were pushing them around up front, but we made too many mistakes. At halftime, we said ‘Hey, let’s buckle down and get back after it.’ These kids never quit, and I tell you what, we’ve been a second half football team these past couple of weeks. They did a tremendous job, I’m proud of them.”
Lupoli finished with 39 carries for 257 yards, with 202 of those yards coming in the second half. He punctuated his evening with a 15-yard touchdown rush to cap off the scoring.
“I couldn’t have done it without my O-line,” Lupoli said. “They were getting the best push up front. We all play as a unit, I think that’s the most important thing.”
A scary moment occurred late in the game when Chelmsford’s Chris Bungard lay motionless on the field for several minutes after missing a tackle and was taken off the field on a stretcher. Thankfully, he suffered only a separated shoulder and no head or spinal injuries.
The Lions (4-4) will face no. 2 seed Reading in a sectional semifinal, likely to take place next Friday at Reading Memorial High School.
“Reading’s a great team, no doubt about it,” Lupoli said. “We just gotta play mentally tough, we can’t make any mistakes, and I feel like if we play with a lot of discipline, we can do it.”
CHELMSFORD 25, REVERE 14
R (3-5) – 7 7 0 0
C (4-4) – 0 0 6 19
R – Christopher Alfaro 2 rush (Camil Herandez Noyola kick)
R – Edward Sullivan 47 pass to Oscar Lopez (Noyola kick)
C – Sal Lupoli 27 rush (kick failed)
C – Lupoli 14 rush (rush failed)
C – Matthew Hooton 1 rush (pass failed)
C – Lupoli 15 rush (Kevin Hennessey kick)
Passing: R – Sullivan 7-22-136, TD, INT. C – Hooton 5-12-66, INT.
Receiving: R – Lopez 5-108, TD. C – Michael Perez 2-26
Rushing: R – Alfaro 15-40, TD. C – Lupoli 39-257