METHUEN, Mass. -- No one contributed more to Dracut’s 19-12 triumph over Methuen on Thanksgiving Day than senior quarterback Matt Silva.
Silva threw two touchdown passes, ran for another, made an extra-point attempt and delivered a 71-yard punt late in the fourth quarter, when the Middies were protecting a seven-point lead.
The victory improved Dracut’s record to 8-3 and earned the Middies a Division 2 playoff berth. Dracut will face Reading, champion of the Middlesex League, on Tuesday night. Reading earned a Super Bowl berth by beating Dracut 20-6 in the playoffs last season.
“This feels great,” Silva said “Everyone was doubting us, saying we didn’t have a lot coming back and that Methuen was at the top of the league this year. We showed we have the players and the coaches. We’re going back to the playoffs.”
It was a 12-12 game until Silva scored on a 2-yard run with 8:22 to play. The TD was set up by a 47-yard pass from Silva to Keith Hamel down the left sideline and came two plays after Dracut’s Greg Brody intercepted a Cal Carroll pass that was tipped at the line of scrimmage.
Dracut trailed 12-6 at halftime, but tied the game on a broken play on its first second-half possession. Silva picked up a bad snap and was nearly sacked before he tossed the ball to Chris Malonis near the right sideline. Malonis outran the Methuen defense for a 57-yard TD.
“We didn’t really expect it to go like that,” Malonis said. “I was supposed to get the ball a lot earlier. It worked out, so it’s all good.”
Malonis, who also caught a 60-yard TD pass in the first quarter, has 20 touchdown receptions this season.
Methuen, which was seeking its first Merrimack Valley Conference championship since 1992, completed its season with a 9-2 record.
“Obviously the kid Silva made some plays,” Methuen coach Pat Graham said. “We didn’t move the ball great offensively today and we ended up with three turnovers – that hurt us. Give them some credit too. They do some pretty good things on defense.
“I thought we should have made a lot of plays earlier that we didn’t. We didn’t play well on special teams today and we had a couple breakdowns (defensively) that shouldn’t have happened.”
“It’s a special group of kids and I feel bad for them that they didn’t get this win today. They had extremely good character, they played hard and they had a great season. It’s just a shame that we couldn’t get it done today and go to the playoffs.”
Methuen made it a 6-6 game when Ryan Savastano scored on a 47-yard run with 6:01 left in the second quarter.
The Rangers took a 12-6 lead when Carroll completed a 58-yard TD pass to Eric Lacroix with 1:12 left in the half. It was his 19th touchdown pass of the season.
“I felt OK at halftime,” Dracut coach Jason Houston said. “We just had to start playing Dracut football.”
Silva completed nine of 16 passes for 216 yards in the victory, which earned Dracut its third straight Merrimack Valley Conference title. He has thrown 24 touchdown passes and run for 12 more scores this season.
“He’s a playmaker, and he made some plays today,” Houston said. “Haven’t had a chance to see a lot of Reading this year, but we’re looking forward to it.”
DRACUT 19, NO. 6 METHUEN 12
DRA 6 0 6 7 --- 19
MET 0 12 0 0 --- 12
D – Chris Malonis 60 pass from Matt Silva (kick blocked)
M – Ryan Savastano 47 run (kick failed)
M – Eric Lacroix 58 pass from Cal Carroll (kick failed)
D – Malonis 57 pass from Silva (kick blocked)
D – Silva 2 run (Silva kick)