HAVERHILL — Patrick Yale simply couldn’t contain his excitement.
“I’m the happiest man alive,” he said. “What an amazing night.”
The Haverhill High junior had all the right in the world to be overjoyed last night.
Yale kicked the field goal the proved to be the winning margin, and intercepted a pair of passes, one that ended a key fourth-quarter drive and the other to lock down the victory as Haverhill earned a gritty 10-7 win over Lynn English in the Division 2 North quarterfinals, the Hillies’ first trip to the postseason since the 2001 season.
“It’s amazing,” said defensive lineman Matt Burns. “Freshman year we were 0-11, and this season we are a top seed winning a playoff game. It’s crazy. I don’t even know how to describe it.”
It was Burns that gave the Hillies the lead with 0:19 to go in the first quarter.
Lynn English QB Chris Lessard attempted a screen pass, but the 6-foot-2 Burns tipped the ball up in the air, caught it and scampered 12 yards for the touchdown.
“It just happened so fast,” said Burns. “The coaches have been telling me all season to watch for the screen pass. I swatted, got my hands on it and just prayed for my life. I don’t even think I had any thoughts. I just tried to run forward.”
That score proved to be crucial, as Haverhill struggled to find any offensive rhythm, finishing the game with just 118 yards.
But the Hillies were able to extend the lead with 2:46 left in the third. Lynn English attempted to convert a fourth-and-1 from its 40-yard line, but was stuffed for no gain. Four plays later, QB Shane Finn hit John Ramsdell for a 25-yard gain to the 8-yard line. Yale then calmly booted the 25-yard field goal to make it 10-0.