Dominated for much of the first half, the Woburn High School football team pulled within striking distance on a touchdown late in the second quarter on Friday night. But thanks to an impressive Reading drive that followed, the Tanners didn’t have much time to celebrate.
Quarterback Rob Voci found Dennis Peary for a touchdown to make the score 17-7 with 2:18 to go in the second quarter.
But the Rockets marched down the field and regained control of the game with a score of their own with just 16 seconds to go before the intermission. Reading went on to a 32-7 victory to earn a share of the Middlesex League Liberty Division title.
“That (drive) was disheartening for us,” said Woburn head coach Rocky Nelson, whose team has now dropped two straight games after winning five straight to open the year. “They out-physicaled us. We couldn’t get off the field on defense. They controlled the ball, controlled the clock, and we couldn’t catch up. Our kids played their butts off, but they were just better than we were.”
The Tanners mounted several drives near or past midfield, but were unable to cash in. One of those came with 4:02 left in the third quarter when Marvin Jean snagged an interception. Woburn’s offense couldn’t take advantage, however, and was forced to punt.
In an indication of how the night went for Woburn, the Tanners couldn’t catch up to Reading’s D’Aundray Burcy, who scampered for a 79-yard touchdown run late in the game. On the ensuing extra point, Woburn burst through the line and blocked the kick. The Rockets, however, scooped the ball up and ran it in for a two-point conversion to cap the scoring.
Following the loss, the locals will need to bounce back quickly if they hope to keep their strong season going.
Woburn next takes the field on Friday at 7 p.m. Late Sunday night the team learned its playoff opponent as the locals will travel to face Wakefield in the opening round of the tournament. The winner takes on Concord-Carlisle or Winchester in the semifinal round of the Northwest Division 3 bracket.
“We certainly have to regroup going into the playoffs,” said Nelson. “That’s part of what we do. We don’t live in the past. We’ll go over it in the film room, find out who we’re playing and start preparing for them on Monday. Hopefully we’ll get back on track here heading into the playoffs.”