STONEHAM – Reading and Stoneham were the top two teams in the Middlesex League this autumn, and when they met on Thursday, only two points separated them.
The Spartans’ 41-yard field goal attempt with 10 seconds left went wide to the left, allowing Reading to win, 36-24.
“I’m proud of the way we played,” Reading coach John Fiore said. “Stoneham are a great team and my hat is on for them.”
With 4:08 left, 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-goal game for the Rockets.
In the next series, Stoneham (9-2) converted once on fourth and 4th and took advantage of a pass interference call to get a first down on Reading 36. Two plays later, Patrick McNamara threw a halfback option pass to Colin Farran, who managed the catch in the goal zone with 1:31 left. Joshua Nardone’s kick made it a two-point match.
The Spartans’ Marshall Albrecht regained the onside kick in the 50’s, giving Stoneham the ball with 1:28 left. A pass interference call against Reading put the ball on the 35’er. Stoneham reached the 24th in the next three games before Nardone came out to try a 41-yard kick to win the match.
“We had momentum,” Stoneham coach Bob Almeida said. “The kids kept fighting. Josh Nardone is a very good kicker. We wanted one more game to get him closer, but we were out of timeouts and ran out of time.”
The Rockets had 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 of the quarter. The Spartans responded to the next series with Jason Nutting completing a 68-yard pass to McNamara.
With seven minutes left of the game, Nutting found David Skutul for a 28-yard touchdown pass. However, his pass on the conversion to equalize to 29 fell incomplete.
Murphy threw 5- and 10-yard touchdown passes to Doherty in the first half to give the Rockets a 14-13 lead at halftime. Goodchild finished the opening of the second half with a 12-yard run.
McNamara scored on a 75-yard run on the game’s first game from scrimmage. for the Spartans.