SHREWSBURY, Mass. — Garret Pacy turned a poor decision into a monster upset, as Shrewsbury High took down the heavily favored St. John's Pioneers on the road, 51-46.
Pacy intercepted St. John's quarterback Andrew Smiley in the back of the endzone to seal the win for Shrewsbury with 30 seconds left.
"I told my kids I'm speechless, and it takes a lot for me to be speechless," coach Terry Walles said, celebrating his second win over his cross-town rivals in his 15 year career — the first since 2007.
"It was just a great football game. I credit St. John's coming back from down 17 in the fourth. But we answered too, and then we made the big play on defense."
Momentum was as transient in this game as it's ever been. The Colonials looked to have the game under wraps with seven minutes remaining and a lead of 45-28.
Mike McGillicuddy changed that with a 85-yard kickoff return touchdown. Then John Giacoppe recovered an onside kick on the following play, leading to a 38-yard Shad Abrokwah touchdown reception. After a punt, Davon Jones caught a 58-yard pass and a two-yard score, and St. John's had scored 18 straight points in three minutes to regain the lead, 46-45.
It was at that point, when it looked as if Shrewsbury would fold, that Jay Reynolds got his hands on the ball.
"I told my blockers 'if there's a big enough hole, I'm taking it back,'" Reynolds said.
He took the kickoff, broke to the right sideline and left the St. John's defenders in his dust for what would prove to be the winning score.
"In my senior year, it's the most meaningful thing ever," he said.
But St. John's had time, and rally they did. After a punt, Shrewsbury's Zach Dionis made the lone mistake of his career day and fumbled at his own 39-yard line with a little over a minute remaining. Smiley led his team down to the 5-yard line with plenty of time before Pacy ended things.
"Hopefully we can take the momentum from this big win and keep going on," said Dionis, who ran for 301 yards and four touchdowns on 30 carries (unofficial). "I'm speechless right now, I just can't believe we won."
St. John's allowed over 400 yards rushing and five touchdowns on the ground. Nick Diliberto contributed two touchdowns of his own.
"It's kind of funny, before the game, yesterday I told [Dionis] he was about to go off, and he went off," Walles said. "I told [Dionis], all of Central Mass., If I had my choice he'd be my tailback. It's just amazing."
A 14-14 game was pried open by Shrewsbury just before halftime. Dionis pushed in a three-yard touchdown. Two plays later Andrew Smiley threw an interception, and quarterback Mike Coggeshall knocked through a 43-yard field goal to put the Colonials on top 24-14 at the half.
St. John's coach John Andreoli said he's not happy with a loss, but was pleased with the way his team never gave up late in the game.
"It was kind of a race to the finish line, but give Shrewsbury credit," he said. "I told my team I was proud of them for putting us in a position to win with 30 seconds left."
SH - Zach Dionis 1 run (Mike Coggeshall kick), 1:26
SJ - Shadrach Abrokwah 9 run (kick failed), 10:36
SH - Dionis 63 run (Coggeshall kick), 10:20
SJ - Micah Cummins 18 pass from Andrew Smiley (Smiley run), 8:28
SH - Dionis 3 run (Coggeshall kick), :56
SH - Coggeshall 43 FG, 0:00
Halftime: Shrewsbury 24, St. John's 14
SJ - Smiley 1 run (Pat Lehane kick), 8:38
SH - Nicholas Diliberto 15 run (Coggeshall kick), 5:23
SH - Diliberto 5 run (Coggeshall kick), 1:46
SJ - Davon Jones 1 pass from Smiley (Lehane kick), 10:56
SH - Dionis 5 run (Coggeshall kick), 7:02
SJ - Mike McGillicuddy 85 kickoff return (run failed), 6:56
SJ - Shadrach Abrokwah 38 pass from Smiley (run failed), 6:44
SJ - Jones 2 pass (pass failed), 3:20
SH - Jay Reynolds 80 kickoff return touchdown (run failed), 3:11
FINAL: Shrewsbury 51, St. John's 46