LYNN — Classical coach Brian Vaughan walked off the field Friday night as the wind and rain swirled around him.
“We really needed a win like this,” he said, “especially in these conditions.”
Check that. The Rams needed a win, period.
After a promising season-opening win over Division 1 Brockton (the Rams’ loss to Catholic Memorial was an exclusion game), the Rams lost back-to-back games to Danvers and Revere. Last week, they got back to .500 with a victory over Salem. So beating Winthrop, as it did Friday, 20-10, gives Classical a very good chance of accomplishing what the Rams felt they were denied by the vagaries of MIAA ratings last year: a chance to make the postseason playoff.
With a 3-2 record and upcoming games against Gloucester and Saugus on the horizon, Classical could end up sailing into the playoffs, especially with a nice Division 1 win under its belt.
“That’s right,” Vaughan said. “We needed the win. Period.”
This one wasn’t easy. Classical dominated Winthrop in the first half, allowing the Vikings only two first downs in the first 24 minutes. Classical was up and down the field, in three trips inside the Viking 20, the Rams only managed to score once — on a 6-yard pass by Dan Gisonno to Maurice Sequeira. Gisonno played a large role in winning this game for the Rams. Once the senior quarterback got going in Vaughan’s read-option offense, he carried the ball 19 times for 72 yards. Meanwhile, he kept the Vikings honest on defense by going 6-for-9 for 63 yards. He also ran for a touchdown.
Ably assisting him in the backfield was Kalvin So, who ran for 81 yards on 17 carries, and scored a touchdown.
“We went in at half time thinking ‘ok, they made one more play than us, so we just make some plays and we’re in good shape,” said Winthrop coach John Cadigan.
And that’s what the Vikings did. They steamrolled their way down the field to open the third quarter, starting on their own 35 and going 65 yards on nine plays, with the clincher a two-yard run by quarterback Mickey Chaves. A 33-yard-run by Juan Guaque (6 carries, 40 yards) was the key play in the drive. Both Guaque and Bryan Conceicao were busy in the Viking backfield.
For a while, as Vaughan said, it looked as if the Rams might be in some trouble,
“I thought our defense played well,” he said. “We just had the one bad series to open up the third quarter. Other than that, we were very good.
“And our offense, with these conditions, did all right too. We just have to finish off drives better, which we did in the second half.”
Things went from bad to worse in the third quarter for the Rams when Gisonno was tackled in the end zone, forcing a safety and giving Winthrop a 10-8 lead.
But Classical regrouped. The Rams held Winthrop to a three-and-out on the Vikings’ ensuing possession, and when Aidan Dow blocked the punt, the momentum clearly shifted back to Classical’s side.
The defense stifled Winthrop for the rest of the game. Meanwhile, Classical, starting a drive from its own 41, ran off 11 plays, with Gisonno scoring on a 4-yard keeper with 3:34 to go to put Classical ahead 14-10. Without kicker Kyle Durant (concussion), the Rams had to go for two after each touchdown. Gisonno made the first one, but Classical couldn’t convert on the other two.
So scored Classical’s final touchdown on a 3-yard run with 32 seconds left in the game.
Next Friday (7), Classical is up at Gloucester (0-5) and Vaughan isn’t looking at the Fishermen’s record.
“They’re always tough for us up there,” he said. “I don’t expect it to be any different.”
Winthrop hosts Salem next Friday (7).