LYNN — Despite a slow start, the Tech football team took advantage of turnovers and rallied to a 24-6 win over KIPP in the first Thanksgiving Eve game between the two at Manning Field Wednesday night. The Tigers forced two fumbles in addition to blocking a punt and recovering an onside kick.
“It was a great game tonight, and I want to give a lot of props to KIPP for how they played out there,” said Tech coach James Runner. “I’m also proud of our guys for executing the game plan and not getting down when we were behind and not playing great early..”
The Tigers managed to find the end zone with several players. Giuliani Daniells rushed for 33 yards and a touchdown, while Chance Buono rushed for 19 yards and a touchdown. David Barrios rushed for 17 yards and threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Elvin Gonzalez, Tech’s only completion.
KIPP’s Daniel Oluwasuyi rushed for 137 yards with one touchdown.
“We had a good game plan in and in the first quarter we looked great,” said KIPP coach Jim Rabbitt. “But I think as the game went on, (Tech’s) size and speed caught up to us and we couldn’t recover. We’re still a young team with predominantly sophomores out there, and we haven’t seen our best yet.”
After forcing Tech to punt on the opening possession, the Panthers struck the first blow of the game. It only took three plays — and one player — to get into the end zone. Oluwasuyi was stopped for a 4-yard loss on the first play, but then he busted a 12-yard run before breaking free for a 48-yard touchdown to give KIPP a 6-0 lead.
That score held until there were less than five minutes left in the first half.
The Tigers forced KIPP to punt with about five minutes to go, and the punt was blocked by Tech and recovered all the way at KIPP’s 11. That set up Tech for a quick two-play scoring drive, which was capped off by Buono’s 8-yard touchdown run. After Buono went on to get the two-point conversion, Tech took an 8-6 lead into the half.
“We work a lot on special teams, and we knew we’d be able to get some guys off the edge if we got the right people out there,” Runner said. “And it completely changed the momentum of the game. We take pride in our special teams and we needed a momentum change.”
“You never want to lose the turnover battle,” said Rabbitt. “A blocked punt is the No. 1 indicator of whether you win or lose, and that was definitely a momentum killer for us.”
It was pretty much all Tech from that point. The Tigers got the ball for the first time in the second half with 7:41 remaining in the quarter, and they didn’t give it up until the quarter ended. After 11 plays and 63 yards, Daniells capped off the long drive with a 14-yard touchdown run to stretch the lead to 16-6.
What followed was a pretty strange sequence of plays. Tech kicked an onside kick, which the Tigers recovered at midfield. On the very first play of the drive, the Tigers fumbled the ball away to KIPP. Then on KIPP’s very first play, the Panthers fumbled it right back to Tech.
Not wanting to miss out on another opportunity, Tech ran a deep pass play on the first play of its new drive. That resulted in a 44-yard touchdown pass from Barrios to Gonzalez to make it 24-6 and cap the scoring.
After the win, the Tigers were presented with a trophy to honor the victory. Tech will hold on to that until next season’s Thanksgiving Eve clash against KIPP.