The Marblehead football team started off a little slow Friday night in Danvers, but once the Magicians shook off the cob webs, they sprinted out to a lead and never looked back to the tune of a 27-7 victory over the Falcons.
Danvers won the coin toss and elected to receive the opening kickoff. The Falcons proceeded to go on a 13-play, eight minute drive and appeared to be headed for a touchdown until Marblehead’s defense stepped up. The Falcons had a 4th-1 from Marblehead’s 23-yard line and decided to go for it, but the Magicians were up to the task, as they stuffed Danvers to no gain.
Marblehead took over and immediately hit a big play from quarterback Miles O’Neill, as he hit Connor Cronin on a swing pass that went for 52 yards. The Magicians then had a 4th-4 from the 4-yard line, but Oneill threw an incomplete pass to end the drive. The score was 0-0 at the end of the first quarter.
It seemed that this was going to be a defensive struggle, but Marblehead’s offense woke up in the second quarter. After forcing Danvers into a three-and-out, the Magicians took over with great field position at the Danvers 49-yard line and took advantage. O’Neill threw a 34-yard deep pass down the left side, and Ryan Commoss made a sliding catch in the endzone, which gave Marblebead a 7-0 lead. The Magicians saw the ball one more time before the end of the half, and scored a touchdown with just 20 seconds remaining. It was a case of deja vu’, as O’Neill again hit Commoss down the left side into the endzone – this time for a 16-yard touchdown pass that gave Marblehead a 14-0 lead at halftime.
Marblehead opened up the second half with the ball, and were stopped after gaining 10 yards on a fourth and 11 from the Danvers 33-yard line. The Magicians forced the Falcons into a three and out and would again strike. On the first play of Marblehead’s second drive of the half, Cronin took a sweep 60 yards into the endzone and extended the Magicians’ lead 21-0. On the ensuing Marblehead drive, they capped off a 49-yard touchdown drive with a 10-yard pass from O’Neill to Eddie Johns. The Magicians led, 27-0.
Marbelhead’s defense really stifled the Danvers offense after the first quarter, as they didn’t give up another first down until late in the third quarter. Magicians’ Head Coach Jim Rudloff thought shaking off the rust was the biggest change after the first quarter.
“I was not thrilled how we started the game, especially coming off a bye week,” Rudloff said. “After the first quarter, we started wrapping up and played a really strong game defensively the rest of the way.”
Danvers got on the board late in the game. Kevin Ahern intercepted a pass from O’Neill at the Marblehead 13-yard line. Four plays later, the Falcons’ quarterback Travis Voisine ran up the middle for a 4-yard touchdown run, which made the score 27-7, and that was the score when the final whistle blew.
Rudloff still sees room for the offense to improve.
“We hit a few big plays tonight, which was great, but did not have much consistency otherwise,” Rudloff said. “Once our offense becomes a little more consistent, we are going to be in a great place as a team.”
Leading the way for Marblehead was O’Neill, as he finished the game with 224 passing yards, 51 rushing yards and three touchdown passes. O’Neill had plenty of help, as Cronin finished the game with 65 yards receiving and added 75 more yards on the ground along with a rushing touchdown. Commoss had 48 receiving yards and two touchdown catches.
The Magicians defense was led by the trio of Sam Annese, Scott Campbell and Chris Dewitt. Marblehead improved its record to 6-1.