It was a game of execution at Blocksidge Field Saturday afternoon, or lack thereof.
On one side, Beverly established a deep running game and was relentless against the Swampscott defense. On the other side, the Big Blue had trouble finishing drives and stopping the Panthers’ offensive attack, leading to a 40-6 route that left Swampscott coach Steve Dembowski very dissatisfied with his team’s ability to execute.
“[Beverly’s] very well coached, they have better athletes than we do, but we certainly can play better than that,” said Dembowski. “We gave up some big plays, dropped some passes, missed some throws, and turned the ball over. It’s just not good enough.”
The Panthers did everything right in the first half. After quickly stopping an opening drive by Swampscott, Beverly scored a minute and a half later on a touchdown run by Kenny Pierce. On Swampscott’s next possession, the Panthers prevented a certain Swampscott touchdown on fourth down by swatting down a Brian Santry pass to Josh Rothwell in the endzone for a turnover-on-downs. Ten plays later, a Brendan Flaherty 4-yard touchdown run capped a three minute, three second drive.
The Big Blue had difficulty finishing drives and making plays, the most notable occasion coming with 59 seconds left in the first half. Swampscott ran an impressive drive to the Beverly ten-yard-line, led by sophomore tailback Mikey Faia and quarterback Santry. After running a reverse pitch on third down to Corey Carmody that resulted in a loss of 16, Santry completed a pass to Rothwell that fell just shy of the first down marker. The Blue got a second chance to convert thanks to a Beverly offsides penalty, but the pass intended to Rothwell was tipped. Swampscott believed if its play on third-down had been executed correctly, it would have fooled the Beverly defense.
“It was a risk,” said Dembowski of the huge third-down loss. “Corey’s doing a great job for us, but we’re just trying to make a play. He has to throw that away, or just hit someone inside. Probably not a good call on my part, but we’re just trying to make a play. We had to find a way to get the ball into the endzone.”
Beverly scored 40 unanswered points, thanks to effort of Flaherty, Pierce, Isiah White, Dom Abate, Joey Kozlowski, and Luke McDonald, who all scored a touchdown each. The only Swampscott touchdown came with 33 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter when Santry ran it in from the 5-yard-line.
However, there were some positives to take out of the game for Swampscott. Mikey Faia, who made his debut as a tailback, ran the ball with great power for the Blue. “Faia was a bright spot for us,” said Dembowksi. “I thought Mike ran the ball hard and hit the holes. He gives us another option at running back, and allows Aaron [Cronin] to get out to his true receiving position, which does help us to some extent.”
The most positive note for the Big Blue may have come during the worst part of today’s game for Swampscott. With just under a minute left in the third quarter, Luke McDonald of the Panthers broke out for a 68-yard touchdown run. It seemed like an easy touchdown for McDonald, until he realized Swampscott cornerback Gabe Golden was right behind him, still chasing after him with nothing to lose. Just as McDonald passed the five-yard-line, Golden reached out and grabbed McDonald, bringing him down just as he passed the goal line. Golden symbolized his team’s effort throughout the game, as Swampscott still kept fighting, even though the game was already decided.
The Blue travel next week to play Gloucester, who beat Salem this past Friday night, 28-19. The game will be played at Manchester Essex High School.
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