DRACUT, Mass. -- For the first half at least, it looked like Friday night’s Billerica-Dracut game was going to rival last year’s shootout, where the teams combined for 102 points in a blowout Middies win.
Billerica put an end to those thoughts in the second half, however, shutting down the hosts in a 40-14 rout that sends a message to the rest of the Merrimack Valley Conference -- that the Indians have the defense to match the explosive offensive arsenal they’ve seemingly always had.
Overall, Billerica (3-1) held Dracut (2-2) to just 172 total yards of offense, including 12 in the second half. The Indians did not allow a first down in the final 22 minutes, and Matt Clifford and Nick LaSpada made interceptions in the fourth quarter.
Of course, the Indians did a lot of damage with the ball in their hands, as Clifford scored a touchdown on a kickoff return, a pass reception and a handoff in the first half and finished with 249 all-purpose yards. LaSpada completed 14-of-23 passes for 239 yards and two scores, while rushing for another. Byron Ramirez rushed for 134 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries, and receiver Willie Ricard was LaSpada’s favorite target, with eight catches for 134 yards and a touchdown.
A few observations from Billerica’s dominant win...
Laying it on the line: Coming into the game, one would have thought Dracut’s line play would be a little superior to Billerica’s. But that was not quite the case Friday night, as the Indians held their own against an active Dracut front. One player in particular who had a phenomenal night was 6-foot, 195-pound senior Billy McInnis. Although he was clearly one of the smaller linemen on the field, McInnis may have been the quickest, as he found his way into the Dracut backfield consistently and protected LaSpada from his right tackle spot. Dracut also had some solid play up front, particularly seniors Peter Salem and Jacob MacShane, but it was Billerica that had the edge there, which came as a mild surprise.
More than just LaSpada: Everyone knows how well LaSpada has played over his career at Billerica, and the hype around the senior signal-caller and safety has been justified. However, there was a lot of talk last year that he didn’t have much around him in terms of skill players.
Well, that’s not the case anymore. Clifford, a junior, is an explosive weapon no matter where you put him. Ramirez is a bruising runner with good vision. Ricard is a tall and fast option to throw to on the outside. While LaSpada gets a lot of just praise, let’s put to bed the notion that he is doing it all by himself out there, because he really isn’t. There’s more to Billerica’s offense than just him.
Middies show their Tuff-ness: It was a rough night for the Dracut offense, which has seemed to have hit a lull at this point in the season. However, one player to keep an eye on for the future is 5-8, 170-pound junior Bryant Tuff. The speedy Tuff gets moved around a lot on offense and just makes plays wherever he goes. He had Dracut’s longest play from scrimmage with a 46-yard run that set up Zach Bassett’s first touchdown. Tuff also made an interception deep in Dracut territory early on that helped keep the Middies in the game. While Dracut seems to be struggling a little on offense right now, the Middies can look forward to getting revved back up by getting Tuff the ball in space and watching him work.
BILLERICA 40, DRACUT 14
Billerica (3-1, 2-0 MVC) 12 14 0 14 --- 40
Dracut (2-2, 0-2 MVC) 0 14 0 0 --- 14
B - Matt Clifford 94 kickoff return (kick blocked)
B - Clifford 49 pass from Nick LaSpada (pass failed)
D - Zach Bassett 2 run (Jacob MacShane kick)
B - Willie Ricard 55 pass from LaSpada (pass failed)
D - Bassett 14 pass from Jimmy Ryan (MacShane kick)
B - Clifford 50 run (Matt Shannon rush)
B - Byron Ramirez 14 run (Jason Ferri pass from LaSpada)
B - LaSpada 1 run (rush failed)