By Chris Thomsen and photos by Robert Marra (see a complete gallery by Monday at his website)
As the second half began, one thing was clear to the Big Blue offense: set the tone. In the first half, Swampscott missed several scoring opportunities to match St. Mary’s three touchdowns, as the Spartans held a commanding 24-8 lead at halftime. It was now the Big Blue’s turn to respond, and they did.
Junior Ryan Cresta brought back the opening kickoff of the third quarter to the end zone, bringing the Big Blue to within ten points with only 15 seconds taken off the clock in the second half. It seemed that Cresta’s amazing run would be the game-changing play.
But, it wasn’t. The game-changing play would come only a few plays later, when St. Mary’s Jordan Manthorne would run 46 yards for his second touchdown of the night, putting the Spartans up, 32-14, with 9:43 remaining in the third.
From there, it was a game of cat and mouse. Although Swampscott’s offense picked up speed in the second half, it was no match for the impressive option attack by the Spartans.
Freshman Abraham Toe, Connor Sakowich, and Manthorne were accountable for every point for St. Mary’s, leading the Spartans to an impressive victory, 64-39, over a resilient Big Blue squad that stayed in it until the last second.
Both Sakowich and Manthorne scored three touchdowns, and Toe, in his debut as a Spartan, scored two. And because St. Mary’s always tried for a two-point conversion after every touchdown, the three running backs were also responsible for converting on every single point-after-touchdown play.
The Spartans traveled 580 yards on offense on Thursday night. St. Mary’s only threw the ball once throughout the entire game, and that pass, late in the second quarter, fell incomplete.
Five of St. Mary’s eight touchdowns came on runs of 40 yards or more. The Spartans’ option offense continually fooled the Big Blue defense, thanks to great execution from its three star running backs.
In the second half, the Big Blue offense scored 31 points on five touchdowns. Quarterback Brendan McDonald threw for four touchdowns, three of them caught by senior Ben Faulkner, and Maleek Newsome ran the ball in for six more points late in the fourth quarter. Although they were unable to establish a rhythm in the first half, the Swampscott offense looked very strong in the second half.
However, on Thursday night, it wasn’t enough to combat the quick Spartans. Anything the Big Blue could do, the Spartans did better.
Check Patch tomorrow for commentary from Swampscott head coach Steve Dembowski about his team’s second loss of the season, and plans moving forward into conference play.