The Watertown High School football teams playoff run appeared to be on life support at Somerville’s Dilboy Stadium Friday night when the home team scored with just over 2 minutes left in the North Section Semifinal, but a missed extra point left the door open for the Raiders to make a magical come back.
With 2:15 left in the fourth quarter, Somerville senior quarterback Elijah Jeffreys ran for a five yard touchdown. The missed extra point left the score at 20-14 in favor of the Highlanders.
Watertown junior quarterback Nick McDermott got the ball on his own 20 yard line with 2:15 left in the fourth quarter and calmly lead a 12 play drive for the winning score. He distributed the ball to a variety of Raiders receivers, who were able to get out of bounds to kill the clock.
Watertown’s drive almost ended prematurely a couple times, once when McDermott had to recover his own fumble, and once when the Raiders had to convert fourth and three from their own 38.
Watertown moved inside the Somerville 30, but McDermott was sacked back to the 32. With 19 seconds left in the game McDermott rolled out and spotted a wide open Conor Kennelly on the sideline. The pass went to the waiting senior receiver, who tiptoed into the end zone past a lunging defender.
“We were running posts the whole time and coach thought that if I faked a post and went deep … We only had 12 seconds left, and we were hoping for the best – put it up there and I would get under it,” said Kennelly who only played a few downs in the game as receiver before the final drive.
Rather than jumping with joy, Kennelly tried to calm himself down because he was the one who would have to kick the crucial extra point. Watertown called time out, and Somerville followed with one of its own in an attempt to ice the kicker. The senior blasted the kick through the uprights to give Watertown the 21-2o lead with 12 seconds left.
“Honestly when they iced me it was a blessing,” Kennelly said. “I was catching my breath. I was glad I had an extra second to get my head right and get out there and kick the extra point.”
After the game Watertown football coach John Cacace gave credit to his team’s heart. The Raiders only suited up 27 players, but never gave up even when they fell behind late.
“Our fight, our heart, we never give up, we never lay down – I love this team,” Cacace said. “I love what we have be able to do.”
Cacace said he has great confidence in his team’s ability to run the two-minute drill, so when Somerville missed the extra point he saw an opportunity.
“I went right to them, I said we score a touchdown we win the ball game, fellas,” Cacace said.
The game started well for Watertown, which jumped out to a 7-0 lead less than two minutes into the game when junior running back Mange Camara sprinted through the Somerville defense for a 48-yard touchdown.
The Raiders went up 14-0 with 3:50 left in the first quarter when senior running back Matt Muldrew punched in a 2-yard touchdown after a long drive.
Somerville cut the lead in half late in the first quarter when senior receiver Fred Castin ran for a 30 yard touchdown.
With 8:35 left in the second quarter, Watertown had another drive going, but fumbled and the Highlanders recovered at their own 18. Somerville returned the favor by fumbling deep in Watertown territory. The Raiders recovered at their own 3.
Watertown moved the ball out to its own 25, but Somerville senior defensive back Jiovanny Pierre intercepted McDermott around the Watertown 40 and returned it for a touchdown, knotting the score at 14 with 2:07 left in the half.
The teams were scoreless until late in the fourth quarter when Somerville got the go ahead touchdown and Watertown’s winning drive.
The Raiders (5-4) move on to their third straight North Section Final, and will travel to top seeded Lynnfield (8-1) which beat Newburyport 26-7 on Friday.