BEVERLY, Mass. -– As far as momentum swings go, you won’t find many that top the one that happened Saturday in Swampscott’s 21-13 victory over Beverly.
With the host Panthers up 13-7 late in the first half, Swampscott quarterback Michael Walsh swung a pass to Richard Sullivan in the right flat, but Beverly’s Dan Brown arrived when the ball did and with authority.
The hit, which caused an incompletion, elicited a roar from the Beverly crowd and a corresponding one from Swampscott coach Steve Dembowski, who barreled over from his sideline to argue for either a personal foul or taunting penalty.
Neither came, but Dembowski ended up getting an even better result. On the next play, Walsh (240 all-purpose yards) converted a fourth and 3 when he picked up nine yards. Then, Walsh threw back to A.J. Baker, who found Walsh in the left flat with a wall of blockers leading him to the end zone for a 49-yard touchdown. Nick Meninno’s PAT gave the Big Blue a 14-13 halftime lead and they never trailed again.
Walsh added a 12-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter and the defense forced two turnovers on downs in Swampscott (8-1, 3-0 in the NEC/Cal Tier 2) territory later on to seal it. It was a satisfying win for the Big Blue, who hadn’t beaten Beverly (6-3, 2-1) since 2007.
“It feels incredible,” said Swampscott linebacker Zach Kalapinski. “They’re a great team.”
“This was huge,” said Walsh. “This was another step towards winning the NEC and that’s where we want to be. So this was a big step towards that.”
Beverly nearly took that step, as Brendan Flaherty (137 yards rushing, 91 receiving) was a major weapon for the Panthers, scoring on a 49-yard run on their first drive and a 27-yard reception on their second.
But Swampscott made just enough plays in the final minutes to hold off the hosts, turning the ball over on downs twice deep in Big Blue territory.
Swamp monsters: The Swampscott offensive line may not be the biggest around, but it’s an underrated group that made the difference in the second half. The all-senior group of Mark Lausier, Sam Gold, Michael Wynne, Michael Bagarella and Abdi Yusef paved the way for 108 yards on the ground between Walsh and Evan Rhodes (71 yards rushing) in the final 22 minutes.
“We thought we could win the trench war,” Dembowski said. “Last year we lost the trench war. We won the yards and all that stuff, but we didn’t get the touchdowns.”
No huddles here: Swampscott’s offense is well-known for its no-huddle spread, but Beverly showed at times that its Wing-T could be executed at just as quick a pace. For much of the game, the Panthers operated without a huddle and kept the Big Blue on their heels for the entire first half. The tempo at which the Panthers played was impressive, and by the looks of it, will only be more elevated in the future. With quarterback Dave Rollins, running backs Flaherty, Dom Abate and Kenny Pierce and four offensive linemen returning next year, expect more defenses to be sucking wind when the Beverly offense takes the field.
SWAMPSCOTT 21, BEVERLY 13
SWA (8-1, 3-0) 7 - 7 - 0 - 7 --– 21
BEV (6-3, 2-1) 7 - 6 - 0 - 0 –-- 13
B – Brendan Flaherty 49 run (Dave Rollins kick)
S – Michael Walsh 1 run (Nick Meninno kick)
B – Flaherty 27 pass from Rollins (kick failed)
S – Walsh 49 pass from AJ Baker (Meninno kick)
S – Walsh 12 run (Meninno kick)