ACTON — Underdog Methuen kept things close for the better part of three quarters, but the Rangers could not contain Acton-Boxboro’s punishing ground attack as the third-seeded Colonials ran off with a 29-6 Division 1 North quarterfinal victory.
Playing a postseason match for the first time since winning the 1992 EMass. Division 2A Super Bowl, sixth-seeded Methuen (4-4) held the high-scoring Colonials (7-1) to only 8 first-half points.
“I thought we played a good game defensively,” Methuen coach Tom Ryan said. “Defense worked the way I thought it was going to happen. Our kids fought hard. Like I said in the postgame (team gathering) heart, passion and hard work were there. All three were checked off and I love our kids for that.”
A-B had scored at least 34 points five times and lost only to powerhouse Natick.
After intermission, a Kenny Sullivan fumble recovery on A-B’s second play from scrimmage set up the Rangers at the Colonial 42. Although the Rangers opened up the ensuing drive with a new-look backfield, it was the starting tandem of quarterback Austin George-Williams and Willy Weinhold who hooked up for the 31-yard scoring payoff.
“That was a heavy package we put in during the week,” Ryan said of the change. “We thought it was something we could take advantage of it, and it obviously worked a little bit.”
But that would be as close as the Rangers would get as Acton-Boxboro scored three times over the next 8 1/2 minutes.
Methuen’s offense could not find momentum in a first half that featured four false starts and a holding penalty that stalled several possessions.
“That was obviously what really killed us was penalties,” Ryan said. “That’s on the coaching staff. That’s on myself not preparing these kids not to get penalties.”