Late TD lifts Holyoke to 24-18 victory over Central to capture Excel Sports Academy 7v7 Summer League title

HOLYOKE – With 23 seconds left in the Excel Sports Academy 7v7 Summer League final between Holyoke and Central and the score tied at 18, Purple Knights quarterback Quinn Cauley lofted a pass into the corner of the end zone intended for receiver Dylan Lubold.

The pass was snatched by Lubold over a Golden Eagles defender for the touchdown, giving Holyoke a 24-18 lead and needing one final defensive stop to secure the title.

“I saw their outside linebacker tripped up and (Dylan) had an outside corner route and when he tripped up, I was just like ‘I gotta go to him,’ said Cauley, who received the MVP award for his efforts.

“The linebacker actually got up and recovered and almost made a play on it,” he added. “It was good defense, a good catch, good throw. Everything was on the money, pretty much.”

Lubold added: “It felt amazing, it was a good ball by the QB, couldn’t do it without him. The whole team did good, so I thank them for that. Otherwise, it was amazing.”

With Central’s gold team attempting to tie the game for a third time and force overtime, a fourth down pass attempt from Golden Eagles quarterback A.J. Richardson on the final play of the contest fell incomplete, ending their hopes of winning a fourth straight title.

“It feels great, especially on our home field,” Cauley said. “This is nothing, it’s just a little spark to end the summer. We really need to get in tune for the season, and see if we can take them on in the season. That’s what I really care about.”

After seeing leads of 6-0 and 12-6 evaporate, the Purple Knights were faced with adversity following back-to-back touchdowns by Central, as it took a 18-12 lead on a TD to end the first half and another on its first possession of the second.

Facing a high-octane team like the Golden Eagles, Cauley acknowledged the necessity to match the enthusiasm of his opposition.

“It’s like a shootout,” he said. “If they’re gonna keep scoring, we gotta keep scoring. We just had to match that energy…. they got a lot of rowdy guys, they get on people, they get in people’s heads and if you can just block that out, we can do what we have to do, and we got it done.”

The championship victory for Holyoke was its second straight win over a Central-based team, as the Purple Knights advanced to the final following a dramatic 26-24 triumph over the Golden Eagles black team and standout QB Will Watson III.

As time wound down in the semifinal and both teams looking to break a 24-24 deadlock, Watson III had Central driving, but a late pass was tipped into the air and intercepted by Holyoke, giving it two points and a 26-24 lead.

“Semis were great,” Cauley said. “They kept doing the same thing over and over again, my defense adjusted, we made them go somewhere else but deep and once that happened, we just let our offense work out, and we were doing our thing out there.”

“They pretty much run the regular season in everybody’s eyes but I like to show them a little something during the summer, and see what we can do in the season,” he continued. “That’s what really matters.”

Both Cauley and Lubold discussed their excitement at the opportunity to play 7v7 this summer, as well as their eagerness to get the regular season underway.

“It felt good to just be running around, yelling and cheering for your team,” Cauley said. “Not having to worry masks and all that stuff, it feels real, it feels like it’s going back to normal and I just can’t wait to play under the lights this year.”

“I love it, I love football,” Lubold added. “It’s definitely my first love, so it’s great being here, it was great being with my teammates and just amazing being out here.”