The Everett High School football continued its run of thrilling post-season victories, rallying in the fourth quarter to earn an 18-14 decision over Peabody in the Division 1 North semifinals Friday night at Lee Coley Field.
Junior quarterback Jordan McAfee connected with Theo Zidor for an 8-yard touchdown pass with 14 seconds left to lift the Tide to victory while silencing Peabody’s massive root
ing section. More than 5,000 fans attended the game matching the former Greater Boston League rivals in a rematch of last year’s playoff game.
The 6-foot-6-inch Zidor made an excellent catch on a perfectly thrown ball from McAfee, who was in a word, masterful, on the game-winning drive.
“The play is jump ball – that’s what it is called,” said DiBiaso. “We were trying to utilize his height. He’s the center on the basketball team. If he didn’t catch that one, he would have been on the bench in basketball season.”
Zidor took one of the greatest plays in Everett’s postseason in stride.
“The play was drawn up. They told me to go make a play and I wanted to make a play,” Zidor told reporters.
DiBiaso said his team showed fortitude in rallying from the 14-12 deficit and keeping Santos and the Peabody offense in check in the second half.
“It was very gratifying to come back and win this game,” said DiBiaso. “They never gave up. They’re tough kids and they believed and they had faith. We kept battling against the adversity.”
McAfee made a triumphant return to the quarterback position after being sidelined by illness for a few games.
“We don’t win this game without Jordan doing what he did on that last drive,” said DiBiaso. “I don’t know if we can do that without him.”
McAfee (20-of-24, 167 yards passing) had a huge 12-yard completion on the final drive to Anthony Norcia, who made a nice catch on a 4th-and-11 play.
“The pass to Norcia – he ran a great pattern. We got 12 yards and needed 11. He’s like Edelman for the Patriots. He just gets open and catches the ball.”
DiBiaso felt the defense’s key stop on Peabody’s final possession was crucial.
“Our defense won the game,” said DiBiaso. “To stop Doug Santos four times is tough, real tough.”
Jacob Miller rushed for a 4-yard touchdown to give Everett a 6-0 lead in the first quarter. Peabody took a 14-6 lead, with Peabody quarterback Matt D’Amato ad running back Doug Santos accounting for the two second- quarter touchdowns.
Everett’s Jonathan Pharel sprinted around left end, eluded a tackler, and raced 60 yards down the sideline, closing the gap to 14-12 with 5:59 left in the game.
With two minutes remaining, the Everett defense kept Peabody from gaining a crucial first down, forcing the Tanners to punt from midfield.
Everett took over at its own 22-yard line and McAfee was Elway-like in converting key passes and finding his receivers. After Norcia’s clutch catch for a first down, Zidor had a key 24-yard reception in the middle of the Peabody secondary.
McAfee then punctuated the drive with his touchdown pass to Zidor, setting off a huge celebration among the Everett faithful. With his team trailing by two points and a timeout left, DiBiaso had told his quarterback to “not take a sack” on the play.
But McAfee made it all moot by delivering a soft, high-arcing pass to Zidor, a play that will certainly find its place in the archives of EHS football.
The end result: Everett is returning to the Division 1 North final against Central Catholic, with a berth in the Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium on the line.