DRACUT, Mass. -- The two-back attack of senior Alex Moore and junior Jonathan Thomas proved to be too much for Dracut on Friday night as St. John’s Prep avenged last season’s 13-7 home-opening loss as they defeated the Middies, 49-6.
Moore and Thomas did their damage early and often as the pair both scored two touchdowns with Moore’s pair coming in the first half on a first quarter 12-yard run and one more in the second quarter from 15 yards out to give the Eagles a 21-0 lead deep into the second quarter.
“We have the two backs who can break it at any time,” St. John’s Prep coach Jim O’Leary said. “Our offensive line played well, and Jack [Sharrio] made some good choices out there.”
Sharrio managed the game well and also connected on a pair of first half scoring strikes to Gerry Kahari (16-yards) in the opening quarter and a nice 7-yard touch pass to Anthony Bongiorno with time running out in the second quarter.
St. John’ Prep led 28-0 at the half as a result of executing in the red zone, dictating offensive possessions, converting defense to offense and capitalizing on Dracut’s (0-1) special teams mistakes.
In the second half Prep came out and continued to dominate on both sides of the ball as Thomas scored twice in the third quarter before the teams exchanged scores late in the fourth to give St. John’s Prep (1-0) the 49-6 opening night victory.
Moore and Thomas: Moore finished the game with 138 yards rushing on 10 carries, all coming in the first half. Thomas finished with 92 yards on the ground on just seven carries. Both players also made game-changing plays on the defensive side the ball as Moore had an interception and a jaw dropping hit from his safety position to open the second half.
“We have a lot of players returning on defense,” Moore said. “We really want to use our defense to get ahead in games, get interceptions and get turnovers. We just like to hit. We are fast and we use all our abilities to our advantage.”
Thomas was also impressive defensively as the heralded junior back had two interceptions from his cornerback spot, with the second beginning the second half when he picked off Dracut quarterback Tyler Duff and took it 45 yards to the house for a score.
“I can play anywhere on the field,” Thomas said. “If it means stepping up on defense then it means stepping it up on defense.”
Both players lauded their underrated offensive line for the holes that they used throughout the game on the offensive side of the ball.
“They open up holes and we just run through them,” Thomas said. “They do not get enough credit but we let them know we appreciate them. They are the hardest workers on the team.”
Bassett leads youth: Dracut graduated a large senior class from last year’s squad and only returned three players on each side of the ball. The growing pains and transition will be there for head coach Jason Houston and the Middies but there is reason to be hopeful.
“We are only going to get better by paying the likes of St. John’s Prep, Mansfield in Week 3. Our kids want to play the best teams and with the always tough MVC schedule it will only make us better in the long run.
Senior running back and co-captain Zach Basset is a workhorse and two-way rock for Houston and the Middies. The veteran carried the ball 18 times for 87 yards.
“Zach is the kind of football player that any coach would want,” Houston said. “He has played anywhere from freshman year at quarterback to running back to slot receiver. He plays anywhere that you need him to play and it is 100 percent all the time. He is our team leader and he has been our team captain for two years now.”
A program first: The win by St. John’s Prep was the first win over Dracut in the five game history of the rivalry.
“As a program St. John’s Prep has never beaten Dracut,” Thomas said. “The coaches reminded us of that and we had to focus on this being the year and we came out and let them know.”
Dracut took the opener last season 13-7 in Danvers as both teams struggled to get anything going offensively in that match-up.
“It is a nice start for us,” O’Leary said. “It is going to get harder for us, much harder, but I got to play everyone tonight and we played well. This is the first time we have ever beat them and the fifth time we have played.”
ST. JOHN”S PREP 49, DRACUT 6
SJP (1-0) 7 21 14 7 --- 49
DRA (0-1) 0 0 0 6 --- 6
S – Alex Moore 12 run (Stephen Camarro kick)
S - Gerald Kahari 16 pass from Jack Sharrio (Camarro kick)
S - Moore 15 run (Camarro kick)
S - Anthony Bongiorno 7 pass from Sharrio (Camarro kick
S – Jonathan Thomas 45 Interception return (Camarro kick)
S – Thomas 38 run (Camarro kick)
S – Ian Kessel 30 run (Camarro kick)
D – Gabe Morales 2 run