BELMONT — Good defensive play helped the Burlington High football team maintain a slim first-half lead, but some missed opportunities, mistakes, and turnovers ultimately caused the Red Devils.
After struggling offensively most of the first half, Belmont made three big plays late to come back and tie the game by halftime. Then the Marauders scored twice more in the third quarter, and eventually pulled away to a 26-7 victory over Burlington, in a game held at Harris Field on Saturday morning.
The Marauders used an effective two-dimensional offense, with quarterback Ryan Broderick completing 14 of 17 passes for 136 passing yards and two touchdown tosses to Kevin Logan. Meanwhile, their running game was led by running back Adrien Gurung with 157 rushing yards on 17 carries and two scores.
The Red Devils got a fine effort from running back Adam Eldeeb who rushed for 138 yards on 13 carries and an early score before leaving the game in the third quarter with an apparent injury. But later in the first half Burlington was victimized by mistakes and turnovers which ultimately did it in, and its record fell to 0-3 with the setback.
The Red Devils started off great. Starting the first possession of the game at their own 35, Eldeeb took his first carry around left end, and ran down the left sideline 65 yards for a touchdown. Josh Pupa added the extra-point kick to give Burlington a quick 7-0 lead.
But after forcing a three-and-out and driving all the way down to the Belmont 10 on their next possession, the Red Devils couldn’t finish it off with another score. Quarterback Ronan Noke was stopped on a short run and threw three incomplete passes, and Burlington gave up the ball on downs.
“We started off great when (Adam) Eldeeb ran for a touchdown, but then on our second possession we just didn’t finish that drive,” said Burlington head coach Dan MacKay. “From there we were driving up and down the field, but what killed us later in the first half were penalties, bad snaps, and fumbled snaps.”
The Red Devils played great defense for most of the first half, forcing Belmont to punt away each of its first four possessions to maintain their seven-point lead. But after its second possession Burlington lost chances to add to its lead by punting and giving up the ball on downs again on its ensuing two times with the ball.
The game’s momentum swung away from the Red Devils late in the first half when Burlington had the ball third-and-14 at midfield. A long pass by Ronan Noke was intercepted by Belmont’s Tyler Arno, who returned it to the original line of scrimmage with two minutes left in the first half.
The Marauders quickly seized the momentum on the next play, when Broderick hit Logan with a 35-yard pass to the Burlington 15. Two plays later from the 17, Broderick hit a wide-open Logan with a pass in the end zone for the score. John Miletich’s extra-point kick tied the game 7-7 which it stayed through halftime.
“Give Belmont credit on that play, Aidan (Noke) was open and Ronan (Noke) made a nice throw, but their guy ran over and made a nice catch to pick it off,” said MacKay. “Then they made two nice plays, where we had good coverage and were all over them, but they beat us with double moves and made good catches.”
Those plays gave Belmont just what it needed receiving the second-half kickoff. After a good kickoff return by Chris Cogliano to the Burlington 43 and a Burlington offside penalty, Gurung took the next handoff up the middle, and ran 38 yards downfield for the score. Miletich’s extra-point kick gave Belmont a 14-7 lead.
Then a mistake cost the Red Devils a chance to respond right back, when after moving the ball to the Belmont 38, a bad snap went over Ronan Noke’s head, and recovered by Logan to give the Marauders the ball just shy of midfield.
From there it took Belmont just seven plays to strike again, as Broderick first completed a 31-yard pass to Tyler Arno to move the ball to the Burlington 12. Then three plays later from the Burlington seven, Broderick hit a wide-open Logan with another pass in the end zone for the score, to extend Belmont’s lead to 20-7.
The Red Devils had chances to come back on their next two possessions. But after driving to the Belmont 31 before giving up the ball on downs, went three-and-out on their ensuing possession to give Belmont the ball on its own 20 early in the fourth quarter.
“In the second half we couldn’t get anything going offensively,” said MacKay. “We couldn’t get any separation with our pass game which was difficult, and we became one-dimensional which was easier for Belmont to defend. Belmont made plays with the pass game and broke tackles in the run game, and we didn’t.”
It took just two plays for the Marauders to break the battle open for good. After a 16-yard pass from Broderick to Andre Yardemian moved the ball to the Belmont 36, Gurung took the next carry right up the middle, and rambled 64 yards downfield for the score, to increase Belmont’s lead to 26-7.
With the outcome no longer in doubt the Red Devils’ defense did stop another potential Belmont scoring drive inside the Burlington five-yard line, but their offense could never drive the ball past midfield on their last three possessions.
“I felt we dominated the first half when our defense plays great, but we lacked the mental toughness when things didn’t go our way in the second half, and the third quarter killed us,” said MacKay. “I was happy we competed in the fourth quarter, but overall we were inconsistent offensively and didn’t make plays.”
Burlington next plays on Friday when it meets Watertown to begin Freedom Division play at Victory Field (7 p.m.).
MASCONOMET 40, WINCHESTER 8
The Winchester High football team knew it would have its work cut out when 2-0 Masconomet came to Knowlton Stadium.
Mascon-omet came with a good offense and defense, but the inexperienced Red & Black made early costly mistakes which led to the game getting away from them. The Chieftains led at the half, 34-0, on their way to a 40-8 non-league victory.
"I knew they were a good team, but when you come out flat as a team, and you don't play fast and physical in the game of football, it's really hard to come back from the start we had," said Winchester coach Wally Dembowski. "You could see it from the start. We didn't do anything remotely that we had practiced all week long."
Masconomet won the toss and elected to receive. The Chieftains started at their 27 and marched 73 yards in 11 plays, with 10 of the 11 plays showing off their varied ground attack.
Senior co-captain Mat Nadworny was the featured back on the first drive, and he had the big play when, on first down from 49, he ripped off a 24-yard run to the Red & Black 27. Nadworny and younger brother Sam Nadworny split the next four carries before quarterback Matt Richardson scored the first touchdown on a six-yard run. Toal Lodewick kicked the extra point and Masconomet led, 7-0, with 5:34 left in the first quarter.
Winchester started its initial drive at the 26. Derek Gianci lined up as the quarterback and he picked up eight yards on his first carry. On second down, the shotgun snap went over his head. By the time Gianci caught up with the ball and fell on it, the Red & Black had lost 23 yards.
Gianci rolled to his left on third down and attempted to loft the ball over a defender to a receiver behind him. Lodewick was behind the receiver, and he came in and picked off the pass. The tall and athletic free safety ran diagonally towards the end zone for a 30-yard touchdown return and a 13-0 lead.
Winchester only went slightly backwards on it next drive, but it was still a three-and-out, with the Chieftains starting their next drive at the Red & Black 33 following a Sam Nadworny 14-yard punt return.
On second and 15, Richardson picked up 18 yards and a first down at the 20. Sam Nadworny rushed for the final 20 yards on the next play, and a second missed extra point try left the score at 19-0 after one quarter.
"It's an effort thing, it's an energy thing," said Dembowski. "We only get 11 opportunities and tonight we certainly didn't take care of those pieces."
Winchester had good field position to start its third possession, but another mixup on the snap led to a 17-yard loss on second down. The Red & Black went three and out again, and Masconomet took over at its 35.
On his third pass attempt, Richardson completed his first pass on the first play of the drive, a 21 yard connection with Tyler McMahon, which quickly brought the Chieftains back into Winchester territory. A 15-yard personal foul penalty brought the ball back to the Masco 41, but Mat Nadworny soon had the Chieftains moving again with a 17-yard run. The 65-yard, eight-play drive also got a 14-yard run from Will Shannon and a 16-yard completion to Owen Barrett before Mat Nadworney scored on a 13-yard run. A two-point conversion made it 27-0 with 8:13 left before halftime.
Masconomet started working in their backups in the last scoring drive of the first half, which covered 43 yards in nine plays, culminating in a two-yard run from Drew Howards. Lodewick's extra point made it 34-0 at the half.
Winchester went three and out again to start the third quarter, and the Chieftains scored their last touchdown on a 57-yard, eight-play drive, all of which were running plays. Shannon got the touchdown that made it 40-0.
"I'm guessing, conservatively, in the first three quarters, we probably had 100 missed tackles," said Dembowski. "Every play it seemed like we missed five or six tackles. They ran hard and are a good football team, but this was like night and day compared to last week."
Masconomet had one last drive in the third quarter following a Winchester fumble. It ended with a fourth-and goal carry that fell short at the four-yard line. The ball carrier fumbled and Alex Nardone recovered.
"On defense, we let them dictate play, and you can't do that," said Dembowski. "We're heading into league play and our league is really tough. So we have a work cut out for us the next five weeks to see where we are going with this thing."
The Winchester possession coincided with the start of the fourth quarter, and the clock was now on running time. The Red & Black embarked on a 94-yard, 15-play drive in which they got all of their positive stats, including all of their first downs, except for one on the last play of the game.
With sophomore Harry Lowenstein at quarterback, sophomore running back had a highly productive drive. He carried six straight times for 53 yards to the Masco 40.
At one point, Winchester faced a fourth and 11 at the 45, but a Lowenstein 16-yard completion to Will Schlessinger kept the drive going. Lowenstein had a couple runs for 11 yards, but it was mostly Wilson for the other yards, and he scored on a 3-yard run. Lowenstein hit Schlessinger for the two-point conversion for the 40-8 final.
The Red & Black are at Lexington this Friday at 6 p.m.