By Jeff Hamrick
---- — 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.”
Acton-Boxboro 29, Methuen 6
Methuen (4-4): 0 0 6 0 — 6
Acton-Boxboro (7-1): 8 0 14 7 — 29
AB — Gabe Cormier 1 run (William Tejeda run) 4:05
M — Willy Weinhold 31 pass from Austin George-Williams (run failed) 6:14
AB — Tom Saporano 5 run (Liam Ben-Joseph kick) 2:45
AB — Tejeda 39 interception return (Ben-Joseph kick) 1:29
AB —Tejeda 34 run (Ben-Joseph kick) 5:47
RUSHING: Methuen (28-65) — Weinhold 8-45, Mike Baglieri 2-9, George-Williams 13-5, John Maginnis 3-4, Christian Monserrat 1-3, Luis Perez 1-(-1); AB (49-249) — Tejeda 12-123, Saponaro 11-48. Hunter Arnold 4-39, Jack Gilligan 3-18, Kyle Tobin 2-6, Gabe Cormier 3-6, JT Kelly 1-3, Jack Hoggard 1-3, Matt Cotter 1-3, Joe Murphy 1-0
PASSING: Methuen — George-Williams 10-21-132 (2 interceptions); AB — Arnold 7-11-114 (1)
RECEIVING: Methuen — Evan Lacroix 6-59, Weinhold 1-31, Brian Cole 1-17, Spencer Bilich 1-13, Monserrat 1-5; AB — Tejeda 4-47, Saponaro 2-38, Hoggard 1-29