AUBURN, Mass. – The four-time defending Super Bowl champs from Auburn lived up to their reputation in the season opener Friday night, routing Shrewsbury, 28-6, in front of a packed stadium in Auburn.
Two touchdowns on critical fourth downs highlighted the win, as Auburn wide receiver Dom DiCarlo caught a fourth-down score and took a fourth-down pitch for another six points.
“They were [fourth-down] situations where we felt we had an opportunity to make a play, and we have confidence in our guys to execute as well,” head coach Jeff Cormier said. “When our kids are squared away and focused, we feel that we have a chance to make a play.”
Auburn started the game with a bang. After some ground and pound running from running backs Tyler Desjardins and Bob Sivret, Auburn faced a fourth down and four yards to go at Shrewsbury’s 39-yard line.
Rolling the dice, quarterback Drew Goodrich lofted a high pass downfield that DiCarlo hauled in. The Auburn crowd exploded as the first score of the season came three minutes into the game. Kicker Steve St. Jean added the extra point to go ahead, 7-0.
At the beginning of the second quarter, Auburn had a fourth and goal from the 8-yard line. Again, Cormier decided to gamble on fourth down, and the team executed with six points. DiCarlo took a pitch from Goodrich, evaded tacklers and found the end zone, making the score 13-0.
But Shrewsbury didn’t go down without a fight. Before the end of the first half, wide receiver Jay Reynolds caught a fade at the back of the end zone. That closed the lead to 13-6, but Shrewsbury wouldn’t get any closer.
In Auburn’s first possession of the third quarter, the team faced a third-down and 8 yards to go in the red zone. Goodrich looked to hand the ball off to a running back, but he ran the ball and dove across the end zone.
Then Auburn succeeded on the two-point conversion, as Desjardins ran the ball straight up the middle, padding the lead to 21-6.
“I thought our running backs gave us a real good effort today,” Cormier said. “They broke some tackles, which was good. I do think we could do a better job blocking. We still have a long way to go to get better.”
Mark Wright, another Auburn running back, finished the scoring in the final quarter with an 18-yard touchdown. Wright took a hand-off up the gut, hurdling over Shrewsbury’s tacklers, to put an exclamation point on the night.
The Rockets next game is against Holliston on Sept. 14 at home.
“They’re as good a coached football team as you’ll find anywhere, and I’m not saying that just because they’re coming to town,” Cormier said. “That’s a top-to-bottom squared-away football program, and we’re going to really have to be squared away if we’re going to compete with them next week.”