EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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October 21, 2012

Brancato’s last-minute score gives Central thrilling win

LAWRENCE — As he broke through the line, with nothing but turf between him and the end zone, Central Catholic’s Santino Brancato needed every muscle in his body to keep from celebrating before the touchdown was official.

“I had to hold back a little,” he said with a laugh. “The second I got through the line I knew I was going to score and it was just the best feeling in the world.”

With 41 seconds left in regulation, Brancato took a handoff, burst through the line of scrimmage and sprinted 30 yards for the touchdown that put the Raiders ahead. A last-second hook-and-ladder was stopped at the 18-yard line as the Raiders clinched a thrilling 28-21 win over defending MVC Division 1 champion Chelmsford last night.

“This was just awesome,” said Brancato. “I had to control myself from celebrating because I didn’t want to get a penalty. Chelmsford was one tough team and this is a big win.”

Central, which fell behind on the first drive of the day and never led until those final 41 seconds, took over with 2:42 left in the game at its 37-yard line. Michael Milano quickly connected with receiver Cody Demers on three straight passes for a combined 19 yards. Then a pair of runs each for Brancato and D’andre Drummond-Mayire put the ball at the 30-yard line and set up Brancato’s heroics.

“The play was blocked perfect and the second I got the ball I saw the gaping hole,” said Brancato. “I got through the line and there was just no one. I wasn’t even touched. I just wanted to get in the end zone.”

It took center Cam Leary a second to realize what had happened.

“I was pushing the guy back and I knew Santino hit the hole,” said Leary. “Then I looked up and he was 15 yards down field and already in the end zone. It was awesome.”

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