(Updated) Tewksbury Prevails In Thanksgiving Day Thriller
Redmen hang on to beat Wilmington, 26-21.
Thanksgiving Day football games are supposed to be memorable and the 2010 edition of the annual clash between Tewksbury and Wilmington didn't disappoint.
Tewksbury held off two fourth quarter comeback attempts by Wilmington and hung on for a thrilling, 26-21 victory Thursday morning in Wilmington. The win was the third straight for Tewksbury after a 2-6 start, and it sent the Redmen home to their turkey dinners on a high note.
"That was amazing," said senior defensive back Ryan Vibber, who came up with an interception to stop one Wilmington drive and defended several passes to thwart the Wildcat's final comeback attempt. "The seniors weren't going to let this one get away. This game meant everything to us. This was our Super Bowl."
Senior defensive backs Anthony Arcari and Sean Connolly, along with senior linebackers Chris Andella and Dave Gallatto, also made critical tackles or defended passes after Wilmington had pulled to within five points of the Redmen with 8:40 to play. Senior defensive lineman Jerry Etienne and Danny Sugrue also contributed with big defensive plays when the Tewksbury offense stalled in the final quarter and left the dirty work up to the defense.
"You have to give Wilmington credit," said Tewksbury head coach Brian Aylward. "We made some big plays early and they could have folded, but they didn't. They kept coming back at us."
"This game shows the true character or our kids," Aylward added. "We've got a bunch of good kids from good families and their character showed through today."
Tewksbury jumped out to a 6-0 lead late in the first quarter when Vibber connected with Kevin Saunders on an option pass that was good for a 21-yard touchdown. Vibber, a wide receiver, took a pitch from quarterback Sean Connolly and hit back-up quarterback Saunders with the touchdown pass.
The Redmen extended their lead to 12-0 when Arcari ran 27 yards for a second quarter touchdown, but Wilmington's senior running back Kevin Moriarity closed the game to 12-7 on a one-yard touchdown run less than four minutes later.
Junior running back Chris Bettano made it 19-7 in favor of Tewksbury on a two-yard run late in the second quarter, but Wilmington stormed back early in the third quarter. The Wildcats drove 65 yards on 11 plays with quarterback Sean Hanley finding Chris Fissore on a 10-yard touchdown pass.
But that's when things got interesting. Arcari grabbed the ensuing kick-off at his own 17 and stormed up the middle, breaking several tackles before busting loose around midfield and racing 83-yards for a touchdown.
"That was the single biggest play of the game," Aylward said. "They grabbed the momentum and we took it back. Anthony has been close to breaking one of those all year. He couldn't have picked a better time to do it."
Down 26-14,Wilmington did not quit. Moriarity, who went over 1000 yards rushing for the season during the game, scored from a yard out with 8:40 to play, setting the stage for the late game dramatics.
Wilmington had two possessions in the final eight minutes, but Tewksbury's defense prevailed both times.
"It's a great win for us," Vibber said. "It erases any bad memories we had during the season. It let's us end the season with a smile."
"It's huge for the seniors and it's huge for the program," Aylward said. "We'll carry this enthusiasm into next year."