BEVERLY, Mass. -— The mark of a truly good offense is to have the ability to put fear, well maybe not shriek out loud fear, into opposing coaches as they spend countless hours trying to figure out how to slow you down.
Beverly has that ability. Even though they were bottled up for 22 minutes in its pivotal game yesterday at Hurd Stadium, those in attendance knew the Panthers were one or two plays from changing their fortunes and posting points in bunches.
That play happened on the opening kickoff of the second half when Brendan Flaherty diced through the Marblehead special teams for 51 yards and kick-started an offensive attack in the Panthers 35-14 victory to secure the Northeastern Conference/Cape Ann League Tier 2 title.
Jim Rudloff knew what it was like as a member of the Beverly staff way back when, and yesterday he had to wrap his head around how to slow down the Panthers even if it was momentarily.
“Good luck to everybody that plays them going forward,” said Rudloff. “You can come up with the most brilliant things for them in the world, but they are just too good. You make one mistake, you turn your hips the wrong way, and you can see it coming before it happens. You can hear the coaches on the sideline just say ‘Oh, God,’ and then they are gone.”
The Panthers didn’t throw a pass in the second half and put up 28 points in the final two quarters thanks to 274 rushing yards. Flaherty led all rushers with 190 yards on 19 carries, with 152 and two scores coming in the third quarter alone.
Kenny Pierce added 67 yards and the exclamation point touchdown in the fourth quarter, and the Panthers offense got contributing touchdowns from Isiah White and Dom Abate.
It’s a “Pick-Your-Poison” kind of offense in Beverly and when they hit their stride it’s really hard to slow down, most recently in the second half of yesterday’s winner-take-all game.
“Definitely better in the second half,” Panthers head coach Dan Bauer said of the offensive production. “It was a fight (in the first half)...It was a great team, program victory.”
Fourth downs: The Magicians were trying to pull the trick of keeping the Panthers offense off the field for most of the game. The first drive was a near picture-perfect diagram in how to do it. Marblehead picked up four first downs on the first drive and converted on 1-of-2 fourth down conversions.
The Magicians didn’t accumulate points, but the trend of going for it on fourth down started to rear it’s head. Marblehead was 3-of-4 on fourth down in the first half and Ian Maag connected with Dylan Cressey for a 27-yard touchdown on fourth-and-6 to tie the game at 7 in the second quarter.
The success on third and fourth down didn’t translate over, as the Panthers defense, led by Mike Dooling, Zach Dugid and Sam Mulumba, forced the Magicians' offense off the field and allowed their offense to get in a flow.
“When you got a kid like Maag and those running backs, they are good,” said Bauer. “That’s what teams are trying to do. Fortunately we were able to get some momentum and make some big plays.”
BEVERLY 35, MARBLEHEAD 14
MAR (8-2) 0 – 7 – 0 – 7 --- 14
BEV (10-0) 0 – 7 – 14 – 14 --- 35
B — Dom Abate 24 pass from Dave Rollins (Harry Brown kick)
M — Dylan Cressey 27 pass from Ian Maag (Joe Newall kick)
B — Brendan Flaherty 6 run (Brown kick)
B — Flaherty 44 run (Brown kick)
B — Isiah White 10 run (Brown kick)
M — Maag 1 run (Newall kick)
B — Kenny Pierce 34 run (Brown kick)