No controversy, no last-second heartbreak. Just a much better opponent.
The saw its championship dreams snuffed out, 35-0, by Duxbury High in the Division 2 Super Bowl, Saturday at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro.
Any hope Tewksbury had of pulling off a major upset was dashed by halftime as the Dragons, who lived up to all their hype, built a 28-0 lead. Duxbury coasted in the second half, putting the finishing touches on its second straight 13-0 season and running its overall winning streak to 27 games.
Tewksbury finished its season at 7-6.
"I'm proud of these kids," said Tewksbury Coach Brian Aylward. "It's always tough to end with a loss but I'm proud of the way our kids fought. We gave our best but our best wasn't good enough against a team like that.
"If there was one team no one wanted to play in the Super Bowl it was Duxbury and tonight they showed why."
Tewksbury actually did a decent job against the much ballyhooed Duxbury aerial attack. Dragons' quarterback Matt O'Keefe did toss three touchdown passes but he completed just 8 of 18 passes for 135 yards and was intercepted twice (by Frank McLaughlin and Allyn Hood).
It was the Duxbury defense that caused the Redmen problems all game long. The Dragons sacked TMHS quarterback Kevin Saunders four times, eventually knocking him out of the game. They also forced three turnovers and held the Redmen to just 106 yards of total offense for the game.
Aylward said the Duxbury defense was the fastest his team had faced all year.
"Without a doubt," he said. "Usually we're able to do some things offensively based on the (defensive) alignment. (Duxbury) would show an alignment and then they'd come out of nowhere."
Tewksbury managed just 12 net yards of total offense in the first half. Senior halfback Chris Bettano finished his career with 19 carries for 82 yards, all but 19 of which came in the second half.
And while the Duxbury offense wasn't exactly operating on all cylinders, it didn’t have to be. Thanks to two fumble recoveries, an interception and a punt return, Duxbury started its four scoring drives from the Tewksbury 27, 36, 24 and 9-yard lines.
"(Giving Duxbury) a short field definitely hurt us in the first half," said Aylward.
"I think we compared pretty good to them physically," said Senior Captain Derek Tarpey. "I think we just made too many mistakes."
After the Tewksbury defense forced a punt on Duxbury's first possession, the offense got the Redmen in trouble when it tried a little razzle-dazzle. On a flanker-reverse option, McLaughlin tried to connect with a streaking Saunders, only to have the pass picked off by Duxbury's James Burke, who returned it all the way to Tewksbury 27.
Six plays later, Jon Hurvitz plowed in from a yard out to give the Dragons a 7-0 lead.
After forcing a Tewksbury punt early in the second quarter, Duxbury took over on the Redmen 36-yard-line. On first down, O'Keefe found a wide open Reilly Natton, who had slipped past the secondary and took it to the house for 14-0 lead.
Smelling blood, the Dragons went in for the kill. On Tewksbury's next possession, Saunders was strip-sacked by Owen Grey, and fellow tackle Mark Trudeau recovered the fumble at the Tewksbury 24.
Three plays later, Hurvitz (7 carries, 75 yards) scored his second touchdown of the day to inflate the lead to 21-0.
But the Dragons' defense wasn't done making life miserable for Saunders and the Redmen. With under two minutes to play in the half, Saunders (3 for 6, 26 yards) went back to pass and was strip-sacked again, this time by Marshall McCarthy. Henry Narlee pounced on the fumble at the Tewksbury nine-yard line.
"(The Dragons) were bringing a lot of pressure tonight," said Saunders. "It was tough to pick it up."
“they had us rattled all game long,” added Bettano. “It was tough to see what was coming.”
Three plays later, O'Keefe connected with Don Webber for a nine-yard scoring strike to make it 28-0.
After not crossing midfield in the first half, the Tewksbury offense put together two good drives in the second half, only to see both stall just inside the Duxbury 20.
In the third quarter, the Redmen took over at the Duxbury 45 following a short punt. A 15-yard run by Bettano and a 15-yard screen pass from Saunders to James Sullivan moved the ball to the Dragons' 19. But the Duxbury defense stiffened and Tewksbury turned the ball over on downs.
In the fourth quarter, with backup quarterback Johnny Aylward at the helm, the Redmen marched from their own 20 to the Duxbury 19 again. But on fourth down, Aylward was sacked to end the drive.
Duxbury closed the scoring with 2:58 to play in the game on a 27-yard touchdown pass from O'Keefe to Burke.