It is a call that has lived in infamy in the city of Gloucester over the last two and a half decades.
Gloucester trailed Chelmsford 21-14 in the final minutes of the Division 2 Super Bowl, Gloucester’s first Super Bowl appearance, at Sullivan Stadium - later known as Foxborough Stadium - and was driving in for a game tying, potentially game winning score facing a second-and-goal at the Lions’ one yard line. The play call was a quarterback keeper left, and Gloucester signal caller Joe Pasquina was stopped for no gain; so the Fishermen, their coaching staff and fans in attendance thought.
After Pasquina’s knees touched the ground - as shown in today’s main photo - he reached the football forward in an attempt to put it over the goal line. As the ball hit the ground it came loose, rolled into the end zone and a Chelmsford player picked it up after a brief hesitation and ran it out to the six yard line.
While Pasquina was clearly down by contact, the game officials ruled the play a fumble after a lengthy conversation giving Chelmsford the ball and the win. Nobody knows if Gloucester would have scored on third or fourth down, and what would have happened on the ensuing extra point. But the fact remains, the Fishermen were robbed of the opportunity, and ultimately the outcome of the game was not decided on the field.
“I honestly feel that the kids from Gloucester High got cheated,” Fishermen head coach Terry Silva told the Gloucester Daily Times after the contest. “I’m not taking anything away from Chelmsford, but they didn’t let the players decide the outcome of the game.”
Tom Walsh, an assistant coach on the 1987 team, echoed Silva’s sentiment.
“It was the worst and most controversial call that I’ve seen in over 30 years coaching in Gloucester,” the assistant coach told the Times on the 20 year anniversary of the game in 2007.