Turnovers prove costly for Red Devils in 42-32 loss to Shawsheen

The Chelsea High football team once again displayed offensive prowess and the ability to make big plays on defense, but turnovers and defensive inconsistency resulted in a 42-32 loss to Shawsheen Tech Friday evening under the lights at Chelsea Memorial Stadium.

“We did a lot of good things against a very good Shawsheen team that was 3-1 coming into the game,” said CHS head coach Mike Stellato. “But we made some costly mistakes and gave up some big plays on defense.”

The contest began auspiciously for the Red Devils when Troy Crossley took a handoff on the first CHS play from scrimmage and rambled 52 yards for a touchdown. Although the PAT missed, Chelsea was looking good with an early 6-0 lead.

However, any hopes by the Red Devils for an easy time of it on a nice autumn evening were dashed when Shawsheen came back on the ensuing kickoff and marched 60 yards to tie matters at 6-6.

The Red Devils then committed the first of what would turn out to be numerous key turnovers by both teams on the night when a fumble at their own 25 yard line was scooped up by a Shawsheen defender who raced into the endzone for a 13-6 Tech lead with the successful PAT.

After the Chelsea offense was forced to punt on its next possession, Shawsheen marched down the field again to increase its lead to 19-6.

However, as they have done all season, the Red Devils refused to hang their heads and displayed a resiliency that has been their hallmark. The Chelsea offense launched an 80 yard drive in the waning moments of the first half, scoring a TD with no timeouts left when quarterback Jordan Virella snuck in on a fourth down play. “We got a nice surge from our offensive line,” noted Stellato.

The big play in the drive was a 40 yard pass completion from Virella to Juan Martinez. The TD and Martinez’s PAT left matters at 19-13 in favor of Tech at the half.

Though the touchdown at the end of the half clearly buoyed the Red Devils, any shift in momentum that might have occurred dissipated when another costly fumble on Chelsea’s initial possession of the second half gave Shawsheen the ball at the CHS 20, from where the Techmen punched in the touchdown to enlarge their lead to 26-13.

Once again however, the Red Devils remained undaunted. Starting at their own 20 after the kickoff, Chelsea moved 80 yards in seven plays, the capper being a 55 yard bomb from Virella to J.J. Rivera. A successful PAT by Martinez made it a 26-20 ballgame.

A reinvigorated CHS defense then stopped Tech, forcing a punt and giving Chelsea the ball at its own 45. Eight plays later, Virella found Martinez in the endzone for a 20 yard TD reception. Although the PAT attempt hit the goalpost, the Devils had finally had pulled even with their opponents.

“We were feeling really good at that point,” noted Stellato. “The defense had stiffened and the offense was clicking, and the momentum was on our side.”

Stellato and his Red Devils were feeling even better moments later when defensive lineman Christian Ortega put a big hit on a Tech ballcarrier, forcing him to cough up the ball. Crossley alertly grabbed the loose pigskin and scooted 25 yards into the endzone to give Chelsea a 32-26 advantage, their first lead since the opening series of the game, with 4:28 to play.

But just when it appeared as though the Red Devils were in the driver’s seat with Shawsheen pinned deep at its own 15 after the kickoff, the proverbial roof fell in on the Red and Black, as the next 4:28 would prove to be a prime example of Murphy’s Law.

A Shawsheen ballcarrier took a handoff and scampered 85 yards for a quick as lightning game changer. Then, on the Red Devils’ ensuing possession, a mishandled snap resulted in Virella being forced to kick the ball out of his own endzone for a safety. That was followed on the next CHS possession by a Shawsheen interception and TD run. By the time the smoke had cleared and the dust had settled, the Red Devils were on the short end of a 42-32 score.

“That definitely was a winnable game for us,”said Stellato. “But give Shawsheen credit. They’re a good team. They never gave up and took advantage of the opportunities they were given.”

Virella ended up with a nice effort, connecting on 14 of 27 passes and two TDs. Rivera was on the receiving end of five of those tosses for 85 yards. On the defensive side, Stellato cited linemen Rony Gomez and Derius Corchado for their fine play.

The Red Devils have another game under the lights at the Stadium Friday evening when they entertain undefeated Lynnfield in a non league contest. Kick off is at 7:00 p.m.

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