LYNN — Trailing 14-0 in the second half against your former team, in front of your home fans, and beneath a picture-perfect sunset – it doesn’t get much better than that for a 100th career win as head coach.
Sean Driscoll of St. Mary’s helmed Winthrop’s football team for 11 years. Friday night at Manning Field, he and his Spartans (2-0) conquered the Vikings (1-1) 15-14.
“That was a gutsy win,” Driscoll said. “If you thought we were coming back to win that game from 14-0 in the second half, I’d say get your head examined, right?”
Hugs and handshakes poured in for Driscoll at midfield.
“I was fortunate to get my 100th win tonight, but some of those (Winthrop) guys have a lot to do with those 100,” he said.
St. Mary’s Athletic Director Jeff Newhall said it best: “I don’t think you could have drawn it up any better.”
“He’s got a young team that just hung in there tonight against a team he was the coach of for a number of years,” Newhall said. “It’s a great night for him and his football program.”
Driscoll was all smiles, but not always. After Winthrop took a 7-0 lead into halftime, Dimitri Koutsoflakis doubled it with a rushing touchdown in the third quarter (14-0).
Again, Driscoll credited his former and hometown program.
“They’re going to win a lot of games this year,” he said.
Needing a spark, Ernie Panias of the Spartans obliged, recovering a fumble with 1:11 remaining in the third quarter.
“They could have just tanked it,” Driscoll said of his players.
St. Mary’s Maxwell Parent rushed for a 7-yard touchdown up the middle with 11:09 remaining (14-6).
“He played an unbelievable game,” Driscoll said of his freshman running back.
Despite Panias getting stuffed on the two-point attempt, the Spartans got their break at the five-minute mark. On a Winthrop punt attempt, a high-snapped ball dribbled to the endzone and by the time a Viking got ahold of it, he was met with a slew of Spartans for a safety (14-8).
“The snap over the head hurts,” Winthrop Coach Jon Cadigan said.
And with 2:21 remaining after a failed Winthrop drive, it happened. Parent rushed for another touchdown – this time on fourth down – from 1 yard out. He followed with the game-winning extra point (15-14).
“He kept bouncing back and then he hits the game-winner,” Driscoll said.
Winthrop had its chance across midfield, but a sack from Adrian Lule and swatted pass from Chris Marks sealed the deal on a miraculous comeback.
“I loved the way my team competed in the second half,” said Driscoll, who added that tempo was the big difference between the two halves. “We made a lot of adjustments.”
“Their no-huddle definitely took a toll on us,” he said.
St. Mary’s returns to action Friday at Bishop Feehan (6:30 p.m.), while Winthrop travels to Swampscott the same night at 7 p.m.