Stoneham preps for Bowl, edges rival Reading, 30-22

READING — Five days after playing a state semifinal and nine days before playing for a state title, Stoneham went for another win on Thanksgiving.

Playing their starters for just about the entire game, the Spartans pulled out a 30-22 victory over Reading on Thursday at Hollingsworth Field.

“It’s an individual decision, but I think it’s a mistake to sit on Thanksgiving Day and not play your rival,” said Stoneham coach Bob Almeida, whose team will play St. Mary’s of Lynn for the Division 6 championship at Gillette Stadium on Dec. 3. “In 2018, in the freezing cold, we played Reading and it went to overtime and it was the best thing for us.”

Stoneham (11-1) scored at the end of two long drives in the second half to secure the victory. Thirteen plays after the opening kickoff of the third quarter, Stoneham quarterback Jason Nutting found Colin Farren in the middle of the field for a 35-yard touchdown pass, putting the Spartans in the lead for the third time. On the conversion, James Landers rushed to make it 24-16 with 4:43 left in the third.

Reading’s Andrew Jackvony tries to haul in a pass over Stoneham’s Kevin Gilmartin on Thursday morning. Visiting Stoneham won 30-22. (Photo By Jim Mahoney/Medianews Group/Boston Herald)

Reading (9-2) came back on the next drive, with quarterback James Murphy scoring on a 1-yard run through the left side of the line with 10:21 left in the fourth quarter. On the conversion, Farren stopped Alex DiNapoli short of the goal line after DiNapoli caught a pass from Murphy, kepping the Spartans in the lead by two points.

Stoneham expanded its lead on the next series with a 16-play, 86-yard drive that took eight minutes and four seconds. Farren finished the drive with a 7-yard run with 2:17 left. The rush failed and Reading remained within eight points.

On the final drive Reading made it to the Spartans’ 29 before turning it over on downs with 1:24 left.

Nutting finished with 122 rushing yards on 16 carries, most of it up the middle behind linemen Sal Asaro, Bobby Ingemi-Jones and Jarred Linehan.

“The line always does a good ob for me,” Nutting said. “I really appreciate what they do.”

Murphy, Reading’s quarterback who will play for Brown next year, completed 31 of 44 passes for 401 yards (1 interception) and two touchdowns.

After a scoreless first quarter the score was tied at halftime 16-16.

The teams traded touchdowns on four successive possessions. The Spartans broke through first when Nutting barged in from the 2 with seven minutes left in the half. Farren rushed for the conversion

Reading responded two minutes and 49 seconds later on a 15-yard pass from James Murphy to Tyan Strout.

After Nutting connected with Sam Serreda for 73 yards before Jake Palm stopped him at the 1, Nutting scored again and Farren added another two-point rush

Reading tied it again with 2:27 left in the half on a 16-yard completion from Murphy to Aidan Bekkenhuis. Murphy passed to Strout for the conversion, tying it at 16.