QUINCY – There have been 89 meetings between the Quincy and North Quincy High football teams on Thanksgiving.
This may have only been Ryan Craig’s fourth as head coach of the Raiders, but he can now say something no other coach in the rivalry's history can.
His team, technically, got the upper hand in the rivalry twice in one calendar year. North Quincy (5-5) rallied from 12 points down in the second half to win 15-12 in the second 2021 rendition at Veteran's Memorial Stadium in Quincy.
“We won in the spring. That was still ‘Thanksgiving’, it was on this field, it was against Quincy so we considered that a win," said Craig of his team's 21-0 win over the Presidents on April 11. "We’re the first team to win twice in one year on Turkey Day.”
Quincy (4-6 this season) still leads the all-time matchup 48-36-5 over the Raiders, but North Quincy has snagged five of the last six meetings.
“It’s an awesome way to go out. The Quincy/North Quincy game is one of the best game’s you’ll ever play in your life,” said junior running back Nate Caldwell. “Regardless of either team’s records, this is really the game that mattered at the end of the season.”
Trailing 12-7 with 4:07 left, North Quincy was stalled inside its own 5 yard line. Modern-day, NFL-style comeback bids are often reluctant to depend on the run game in such situations with worry about the dwindling clock, as Craig noted postgame – especially if 96 yards separates the offense from a potential go-ahead score.
But Craig decided to go back to what his team does best: run the football and capture the crucial yards piece-by-piece. The Raiders handed it off to senior running back Matt Craig, coach Craig's son, six times during the drive. Throw in a few defensive pass inference calls against the Presidents into the mix, and that was North Quincy's recipe to landing deep inside Quincy territory at the 10-yard line.
“The running game is our bread and butter. Sometimes in the game, when things aren't going your way and you’re trying to get back some positive yardage, you go back to what you do," said Ryan Craig. "And we ran the football. It (got) us positive yards and we were able to gain a little bit of confidence and keep pushing the ball.”
Raiders quarterback Cooper Hansen dropped back to pass on fourth-and-8 at the 10, and located Caldwell in traffic for the go-ahead score with 1:22 remaining. Caldwell also converted the two-point conversion to put the Raiders ahead 15-12.
“I had a vision," said Caldwell, "just like (former Patriots cornerback) Malcolm Butler in the Super Bowl (XLIX, against the Seattle Seahawks)."
Caldwell, a three-sport athlete, has only played football for two years, but Ryan Craig acknowledges how quickly the junior has caught on to the schemes, saying, “He’s a fairly new player, but he’s an incredible athlete. He’s one of the smartest players on the field.”
Examining the urgency of the Raiders' final offensive drive, Caldwell's confidence reached its highest on a pass from Hansen to wide receiver Jackson Murphy along the sideline which yielded a Quincy defensive pass interference call. North Quincy then took advantage, marching into the Presidents' end after Craig's carries gathered valuable yards.
“We were all preaching the whole time to keep pushing, keep pushing, we got this," Caldwell said. "We were going to get them, we knew we had them.”
“This is definitely the most exciting game I’ve ever coached,” said Ryan Craig. “My son Matt Craig is a senior on this team and with all of his friends, this is a special group of seniors. I really wanted the game for them, and they went out and earned it.”
Quincy held a 6-0 lead at halftime as Drew Boretti threw a 50-yard TD pass to Jacey Ham. That lead doubled to 12-0 with a TD pass from Boretti to Clayton Corley.
Ryan Craig's veteran group, led by 17 seniors, played a tough schedule this year and lost to Super-Bowl bound teams in Scituate and Abington. Ryan Craig still believes, despite the .500 record, that his group is one of the best teams in the area. One thing's for certain, though: they ended their high school careers with a win Raiders of any generation covet.
“It means the world to me," said Matt Craig. "I’ve been playing with and against these guys ever since the youth days, it’s really special. It means everything.”
This article originally appeared on The Patriot Ledger: North Quincy defeats rival Quincy on Thanksgiving
Source : https://news.yahoo.com/high-school-football-north-quincy-223013694.html1406