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Babson Over Endicott in 95-Point Thriller

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Babson Over Endicott in 95-Point Thriller

Babson in green won on the final play. Alex Goff photo.

Babson beat Endicott in dramatic fashion 50-45 to advance to the NCR Small College semifinals in Houston.

The game was played on a very windy day in Malden, Mass., and was back-and-forth throughout. Still, well into the second half Babson led 40-14 and looked in control. They weren't.

Babson kicked off with the wind at their backs but didn't really seem interested in kicking the ball too much. What they did have was an Endicott team that had to work extra hard to get out of their 22. Babson came close to scoring early but were perhaps a little too impatient and it took a while to get going. Finally, seemingly out of nowhere, they were able to cut through and the forwards finished it off.

Endicott survived their restart going out on the full to get a long, weaving run from flyhalf Pat Brennan, with help from wing Graham Lynch, to get the Gulls close before they powered over.

Babson answered with a break from lock Brice Muller and excellent support from Dash Scura. The backs ran it in from there, spinning quickly to fullback Stevie Garofolo. Another break from Muller this time set up inside center Jack Byszio, like Muller a freshman, and Babson led 21-7.

(Both kickers, Lynch for Endicott and Reed Santos for Babson, were excellent.)

Endicott were unmoved and some big runs from prop Andrew Coscia and No. 8 Jordan Chappell got them close and off a tap penalty lock Drew Hodges crashed over. That made it 21-14, but after that Babson went on a tear.

Garofolo broke through and set up wing Kyle Wilson for a long run down the left sideline. Endicott's cover defense was there, but Muller spotted a little space on the weak side and picked up to score from there. Endicott tried to get another back and were in position to score. They got a penalty well within the Babson 22 on the right side of the field. It's a wide field at Pine Banks and if the Gulls had called for a scrum they might have had a nice open door for Chappell to pick up and exploit. Instead they opted to tap and go left, where a Babson tackle knocked the ball loose to end the half with the Beavers up 28-14.

Going into the second half Babson definitely wanted to avoid giving up silly penalties—high tackles and not rolling away their main infractions. Endicott needed to use the wind, which would be at their backs, and to catch the restarts.

But Endicott didn't really kick, and that was partly due to some injuries, and instead kept trying to run at or through the Babson line. The result was two more tries for Babson. A big break from Kehinde Adenle set up one and a lovely connection between Santos and Garofolo produced another. Santos, kicking against the wind, missed his first kick, but got the other and it was 40-14.

Endicott responded by going route one, with Chappell leading the way, to thunder through. But Babson replied. The Gulls had a chance at a break but the play was called back for a forward pass. From the ensuing scrum No. 8 Charles Price reeled off a massive run and connected with Muller for his try. Now it was 45-21.

But Endicott came back and scored again. Babson was yellow-carded and the Gulls scored once more on a tap move (Chappell). The Beavers began to look over their shoulder, with good reason, and their penalties crept back in the game. With midfielders Deshean Hatton and Jaden Carnevale finding some space and setting up the outside backs of Lynch, Jonathan Taylor, and Kyle Ernest, Endicott were running now. After holding Endicott up in-goal, Babson's goalline dropout went out on the full. That meant a scrum back near the tryline and Chappell had no trouble going over.

Up 45-33 Babson got back into the Endicott 22 but the Gulls defense had their best sequence of the day, making tackle after tackle. Had Santos perhaps set up for a drop goal it might have worked—the three points from a drop would have made it a three-score lead at 48-33. GRR asked Babson Head Coach Carrick Pell about that idea and he in fact said he would have fully supported that plan. The opportunity didn't present itself, however.

Instead, Endicott got out of trouble and ran in another try. That made it 45-40 and then Lynch scored in the corner to make it 45-45. The kick didn't make it, and we had a tie game.

Babson surged on for one more shot. Time was frittering away, and after repeated penalties, Endicott hooker Matt Bant was yellow-carded. This was a crucial yellow card, because Babson opted for the lineout just five meters out. With no hooker, Endicott didn't replace Bant with someone else who could stand in the tramline between the lineout and the sideline. Muller took the throw and dropped it down to Price. The freshman No. 8 knew there was space to attack on the weak side, and he ran low and hard and was in at the corner. That was it—Babson had won it 50-45.

Hearbroken, Endicott will perhaps look back on this game and remember they came back from 26 points down to tie the game. They were certainly gutted at losing but they shook hands and told Babson to go to Houston and win it all. You get the feeling that if Babson survives this, maybe they can survive anything.

With Catholic University scraping by Southeastern Louisiana, Cal Poly Humboldt thumping Western Oregon, and Wayne State riding their astonishing attack (163 points in their last three playoff games) winning their quarterfinals, it will be a final four of teams that know how to win, but whose stories are all quite different.