BEVERLY — On a classic, crisp New England autumn day, the Marblehead football team rode into Hurd Stadium and put on a big-play clinic in the first half en route to a 40-6 win.
The Magicians, 2-4, broke out to a 27-6 lead over the 0-6 Panthers after 24 minutes, upped it to 40-6 after three quarters, and rode it from there as the teams played running time over the final 12 minutes. Quarterback Finn Gallup threw for two touchdowns and ran for one.
It’s been a difficult season thus far for both teams, with injuries to key players hampering their efforts – something Marblehead coach Jim Rudloff alluded to after the game.
“We didn’t have to talk to them (about the dangers of playing a winless team),” said Rudloff, whose Magicians lost their first four games before winning their last two. “All they have to do is look in the mirror.”
Beverly showed willingness to think outside the box early Saturday. With the Magicians already leading 6-0 after a 44-yard run by Brady Selvais (a drive that took all of three plays), coach Jeff Hutton called for a fake punt in his own territory on fourth-and-8. It worked. Punter Danny Pierce connected with Callan McCay for a 34-yard gain. Unfortunately for the Panthers, they couldn’t capitalize after that.
The story of Beverly’s season thus far, Hutton said.
“We’re not there yet,” he said. “But we’re still in there fighting. We had a guy block a punt and an extra point (Greg White). We’re not quitting.”
Beverly got close several times, but the Panthers were hurt by two interceptions deep in Marblehead territory.
For his part, Rudloff seemed less happy than Hutton – a sense of weirdness that ran through the game. Beverly ran more plays in the first half, and held onto the ball longer, for example, but that was because Marblehead scored on long plays.
“We’re still making the same mistakes,” Rudloff said. “Game after game, we’re making them.”
But he was also happy with what went right, too.
“I thought we ran the ball better today,” he said.
On Marblehead’s second possession, it took eight plays before Gallup ran it in from the 3 to make it 13-0. On the next possession, it only took three plays for Colt Wales to rip off a 32-yard touchdown run to make it 20-0.
The Magicians upped the score to 27-0 on their next drive, needing only two plays, the second being Gallup’s 94-yard pass that Chris DeWitt caught at the Marblehead 14 and took to the house, untouched.
Beverly got on the board on a 10-play drive to close the half, with Brian Kessel finding McCay in the end zone from 5 yards out.
Marblehead decided to hold onto the ball and run the clock down as much as it could in the third quarter, still ending up with two touchdowns. The first came on an 11-play drive that ended with a 5-yard gallop by Gallup; and the second 10-play drive that resulted in Wales’ 5-yard run.