STONEHAM – Reading and Stoneham were the top two teams in the Middlesex League this fall and when they met on Thursday, only two points separated them.
The Spartans’ 41-yard field goal attempt with 10 seconds remaining went wide left, allowing Reading to prevail, 36-24.
“I’m proud of the way we played,” said Reading coach John Fiore. “Stoneham is an awesome team and my hat’s off to them.”
With 4:08 remaining, Reading (10-1) led, 36-27 after Colby Goodchild scored his second touchdown of the day on a 26-yard run. Jake Palm’s kick made it a two-score game for the Rockets.
On the next series, Stoneham (9-2) converted once on fourth and 4 and took advantage of a pass interference call to get a first down at the Reading 36. Two plays later, Patrick McNamara threw a halfback option pass to Colin Farran, who made the catch in the end zone with 1:31 remaining. Joshua Nardone’s kick made it a two-point game.
The Spartans’ Marshall Albrecht recovered the onside kick at the 50, giving Stoneham the ball with 1:28 left. A pass interference call against Reading put the ball on the 35. Stoneham made it to the 24 on the next three plays before Nardone came out to attempt a 41-yard kick to win the game.
“We had the momentum,” said Stoneham coach Bob Almeida. “The kids kept battling. Josh Nardone is a very good kicker. We wanted to get one more play to get him closer, but we were out of timeouts and were running out of clock.”
The Rockets held a 29-21 lead at the end of the third quarter after James Murphy completed his third touchdown pass, all to Jesse Doherty, with 46 seconds left in the quarter. The Spartans responded on the next series with Jason Nutting completing a 68-yard pass to McNamara.
With seven minutes left in the game, Nutting found David Skutul for a 28-yard touchdown pass. His pass on the conversion to tie the score at 29 fell incomplete, however.
Murphy threw touchdown passes of 5 and 10 yards to Doherty in the first half to give the Rockets a 14-13 lead at the half. Goodchild finished the opening drive of the second half with a 12-yard run.
McNamara scored on a 75-yard run on the game’s first play from scrimmage. for the Spartans.