FRANKLIN – It was fiesta time with Matt Festa in Franklin.
The Duxbury senior quarterback was outstanding as the Dragons jumped out to a 21-7 lead en route to a 34-21 victory over the Panthers in a top nonleague tilt between two unbeaten squads.
Festa finished 15 for 25 through the air with two touchdown connections with Chris Walsh of 40 and 88-yard touchdown strikes. Festa also added a score on the ground and eclipsed the century mark with 102 yards on only 12 carries.
“We’ve been playing together since we were little kids and everyone talks about the fact that we have chemistry, we have the same brain, and we just know where each other are going to be at all times on the field,” said Festa.
Duxbury (3-0) scored on their first three possessions, with Walsh’s first touchdown grab coming on their third series.
Alexander Barlow scored on a 1-yard dive on a nine-play drive to start the scoring for the Dragons, while Festa called his own number on a 6-yard quarterback draw as the offensive line for the Dragons was able dominate in all phases of the game
“(Franklin)’s defense line is very talented, very athletic, and do a lot of stunting so we just made it a huge focus this week. Last year, they gave us a lot of fits,” said Duxbury head coach Matt Landolfi. “Our offensive line has four juniors and they just worked really hard this week and prepped for the stunts all week.
Walsh ran a go route down the sideline and timed his jump perfectly and broke free of the secondary to give the Dragons a 21-7 lead at 10:55 of the second quarter and the Dragons took the 14-point lead and the road momentum into the locker room at halftime.
“We didn’t help ourselves out on either side of the ball, giving up big runs on defense, not executing on first and second down on offense,” said Franklin head coach Eian Bain. “We were terrible on third down on both sides of the ball. Poor preparation — that starts with me — and our kids are usually a lot better than that and we need to do a better job coaching them up.”
The Dragons converted 3-of-3 on third down and 2-of-3 on fourth down in the first half alone with a Hail Mary from the arm of Festa to the end zone which ended the second quarter as the lone turnover for the Dragons.
The Dragons had the ball at the break but were forced to punt for the first time in the game. Franklin was backed up at their own 19 for their first possession of the second half only to fumble the ball away to lineman Henry Bicknell at the 16-yard line on the Panthers’ lone turnover.
The miscue allowed Duxbury to take a commanding 28-7 lead after a five-play drive was capped off by a jet sweep from Adam Barr with 6:35 left in the third.
On the very next drive for the Dragons, Festa hit Walsh with an 88-yard pump-and-go route for the 34-14 lead at 5:50 of the third. Walsh, who was wide open at midfield on the first play from scrimmage, took care of the rest.
“That’s a good duo to have, too bad they are seniors, because we are going to miss them next year,” said Landolfi. “I mean Matt Festa, what are you going to say? The kid is a competitor and I would take that kid any day of the week 15 times over.”