LYNN — Anthony Nichols saw the block unfold in front of him, hit the hole with a burst, and evaded a tackle to rumble into the end zone and set off a frenzied celebration from his Bishop Fenwick teammates.
His 7-yard touchdown run in double overtime gave Fenwick’s its first and only lead of the game, and served as the winner for the 19th-ranked Crusaders in a thrilling 26-20 double-overtime win over No. 20 St. Mary’s Friday at Manning Field.
In a battle of unbeatens, Bishop Fenwick (4-0, 2-0) took sole possession of first place in the Catholic Central Large division, erasing an early 14-0 deficit.
“We never let down the whole game,” said Nichols. “We kept our motors running and everyone had each other’s backs.”
Fenwick’s comeback seemed improbable when St. Mary’s led 14-7 and rushed for a first down over midfield with under two minutes left. The Crusaders had just one timeout left, but the Spartans fumbled on the ensuing play and Fenwick emerged from the pile with the ball and a new life.
Quarterback Bryce Leaman (282 passing yards, 2 TDs) then engineered an 8-play, 59-yard drive, capped by a 14-yard touchdown pass to a wide open Costa Beechin in the end zone to force overtime.
“We had to hustle there and get out of bounds,” said Leaman. “We knew we were never out of this game and we just had to stay focused on that drive.”
After both teams scored in the first overtime — Fenwick on a 2-yard run by Leaman and St. Mary’s on a 4-yard run by David Brown — Leaman came up big on defense with an end zone interception.
On the third and goal from the 7 in double OT, Nichols raced to the left edge and found pay dirt for the win.
“I couldn’t breathe after that I was speechless,” said Leaman.
St. Mary’s (3-1, 1-1) took a 14-0 lead in the opening quarter on a pair of touchdown runs from Brown (168 yards, 3 TDs). But Fenwick struck back with 5:15 in the first on a 75-yard pass from Leaman to Beechin.
Neither team scored again until Fenwick’s late-game heroics.
“We’ve had a lot of great games with St. Mary’s and I can’t think of one better than that,” said Fenwick coach Dave Woods.