Sotonwa scores 4 TDs as Middleboro claims share of division title


ABINGTON — Playbooks are nice and all, with their carefully thought-out formations and motions that get drilled all week in practice.

But sometimes you just gotta ad-lib.

In the midst of a breakout, four-touchdown performance Friday night (on his 18th birthday no less), Middleboro High senior running back Bolu Sotonwa showed that not only can he execute the scripted stuff, but he can improvise, too. His mid-play lateral back to quarterback Nate Goodine set up his own momentum-altering score in the Sachems’ 34-7 win over Abington that delivered Middleboro a share of the South Shore League Sullivan Division crown (with Norwell).

“We practice that one every day,” Sachems coach Pat Kingman said before letting out a big laugh and adding, “Just kidding.”

Middleboro (6-2, 4-1 in the Sullivan with its lone loss to Norwell) had dominated the first half, taking a 12-0 lead into intermission. But Abington (6-2, 3-2) came roaring out of intermission with a 10-play, 68-yard TD drive capped by Ryan Simonetti’s 3-yard run and Michael Reilly’s PAT that shaved the deficit to 12-7 with half the third quarter gone.

Middleboro answered with a promising drive, but on a second-and-7 from the Abington 30, Sotonwa ran left and was swarmed. With Abington linebacker Nate Duggan hanging onto one of his legs, Sotonwa alertly pitched the ball back to Goodine, who shook one defender on the edge and scampered left for a 19-yard gain down to the 11. On the next play, Sotonwa darted in for a TD that made it 20-7 after three quarters.

“It was crazy,” said Sotonwa, who ran 21 times for 248 yards and three TDs and caught two passes for 15 yards, including an 11-yard score.

“Definitely wasn’t planned,” Goodine said. “It’s just our chemistry. I saw him getting wrapped up. He spun his head. I just clapped for the ball and he tossed it. It was just on the spot. We have never done that (before). It was just instinctual.”

Pretty much whatever Sotonwa and Goodine tried in this one worked like a charm. Goodine, a 5-9 senior receiver who was pressed into service at QB due to injuries, ran 15 times for 111 yards and a TD and was 6 of 9 passing for 45 yards and a score. He and Sotonwa combined for 36 of Middleboro’s 37 rushing attempts.

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Middleboro began the year with sophomore Wyatt Goyette at QB in place of graduated star Jacob Briggs, last year’s Sullivan Division MVP. But Goyette banged up his elbow in a Week 2 loss to Holliston and Goodine eventually slid into the job.

“Nate played quarterback his freshman year,” Kingman said. “He’s one of those (glue) guys. You see him jumping over the pile, fights for every yard. He’s the grittiest kid on the team even though he’s (5-9).”

Sotonwa opened the scoring with a 72-yard TD run up the middle, two plays after defensive back Andrew Falk had picked off a fourth-down pass in the end zone to thwart a promising Abington drive. Goodine hit Sotonwa with an 11-yard TD pass on a wheel route in the final seconds of the first half for the 12-0 cushion.

“We hadn’t run that play in five weeks,” Kingman said. “The last time we ran it we threw an interception against Norwell on fourth down. They were man-to-man, so I figured there was no way they were going to cover the running back.”

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After Sotonwa’s TD run made it 20-7, Abington fumbled away the ensuing kickoff return, and Middleboro capitalized immediately as Sotonwa ran 24 yards for a score. Dyan Covell’s PAT made it 27-7 before Goodine tacked on a late 1-yard TD run off a beautiful play fake.

Middleboro’s defense was tremendous as Abington completed just one of eight passes, absorbed two sacks and generated only four plays of 10-plus yards (Sotonwa had 10 by himself) with the longest being a 15-yard run. The Green Wave’s legendary ground game averaged 5.3 yards per carry but totaled only 163 yards with A.J. Nash (8-49) and Simonetti (6-37) leading the way.

The Sachems turned the ball over on downs the first two times they had the ball, then scored five straight touchdowns before kneeling out the clock on their final possession.

Middleboro, which made it to the state quarterfinals a year ago, was No. 7 in the Div. 4 MIAA power rankings coming in and should climb. Abington was No. 2 in Div. 6.

“Our kids fight; they never give up,” Kingman said. “I thought if we won, that might bump us up to six or five (in the power ranking), and our kids want to play at home one more time. If we lost, we weren’t playing at home the rest of the year. If we can get a home game, we’ll worry about the rest.

“It sounds kind of silly, but I always tell the kids, ‘If we get invited to the dance we can always dance with the queen.’ Give us a chance; that’s all we want. We have a good football team, maybe not what we’ve been in years past but we’re still pretty good. I bet nobody thought we were going to be 6-2 this year.”


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