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BURLINGTON — If there was any silver lining with playing the top team in the league’s Freedom Division and one of the top Division 6 teams in the state, it was that the Burlington High football team battled and fought hard for three quarters and came through with by far its best offensive game of the season.

But even scoring five touchdowns, three more than in any previous game this year, wasn’t nearly enough against such a high-powered offense. Stoneham scored touchdowns on all nine of its possessions, to emerge with a 68-36 victory over the Red Devils, in a game held at Varsity Field on Friday night.

Using their double-wing offense the Spartans ran the ball on all but one play and amassed an incredible 459 rushing yards. Pat McNamara led the attack with 154 rushing yards on 15 carries and four touchdowns, while quarterback Jason Nutting added 89 rushing yards on 13 carries and three jaunts to the end zone.

“I knew we’d have a really hard stopping them, and the way Stoneham ran its double-wing tonight was the best I’ve ever seen,” said Burlington coach Dan MacKay. “They were so fast, and with some of their sneak plays we lost who the ball carrier was, and they got us and we just couldn’t stop it because of that.”

But even against unbeaten Stoneham the Red Devils offense produced an amazing offensive display. Quarterback Ronan Noke completed 7 of 19 passes to Sam Doherty for 327 yards and four touchdowns while running for another score, but it didn’t prevent Burlington from falling to 0-8 this season.

“I’m so proud of how hard our kids played, and our offense just came together tonight,” said MacKay. “Our offensive line was great, Ronan (Noke) threw the ball very accurately, and Sam (Doherty) made some great catches with a Stoneham kid right there on him. Overall our offense just played phenomenal tonight.”

It didn’t take long for the Spartans offense to put points on the board. On the second play of the game from the Stoneham 47-yard line, McNamara took the handoff, broke right through the line, and ran 53 yards for the opening score. Nutting rushed home the two-point conversion to give Stoneham a quick 8-0 lead.

Amazingly, it took the Red Devils just two plays themselves to respond from their own 31-yard line, when Noke threw a high pass which Doherty caught in stride at midfield, and ran it all the way to the end zone for the score. Josh Pupa’s extra-point kick cut Burlington’s deficit to 8-7 less than two minutes into the game.

But the Spartans responded with an 11-play, 65-yard scoring drive, as several short runs by McNamara and Jake Bruno moved the ball to the Burlington 26. Then Nutting took the next carry up the middle into the end zone for the score, then rushed home the two-point conversion to extend Stoneham’s lead to 16-7.

The Red Devils answered right back on the third play of their next possession from their own 35-yard line, when Noke again hit Doherty with a pass just past midfield, and Doherty took it all the way down to paydirt for the score. Pupa’s extra-point kick sliced Burlington’s deficit to 16-14 still late in the first quarter.

The unbeaten Spartans responded with a nine-play, 57-yard drive extending into the second quarter. Several short runs by McNamara and Marshall Albrecht moved the ball to the Burlington one, from where McNamara ran it home for the score, and Bruno’s two-point conversion rush pushed Stoneham’s lead to 24-14.

Then after forcing a three-and-out, the Spartans launched a nine-play, 74-yard drive, as several runs by McNamara and Nutting moved the ball to the Burlington five. Then McNamara ran it home for his third score, and Nutting completed a two-point conversion pass to Albrecht to push Stoneham’s lead to 32-14.

To their credit the Red Devils didn’t quit, and started a seven-play 61-yard drive. Noke completed passes of 28 and 13 yards to Doherty to move the ball to the Stoneham two, before running the next carry into the end zone. Adam Eldeeb ran home the two-point conversion to cut Burlington’s deficit to 32-22 by halftime.

Then the Red Devils took six plays to go 76 yards to cap their ‘double score’. After several runs moved the ball close to midfield, Noke hit Doherty with a pass at the Stoneham 30, and he took it to the end zone for his third score. Eldeeb’s two-point conversion run sliced unbeaten Stoneham’s lead to just two points (32-30).

But just when the Red Devils were back in it, the Spartans recovered the ensuing onside kick at their own 49-yard line. Then on the next play McNamara broke through the line and ran 51 yards to the end zone for his fourth score of the game. Albrecht’s two-point conversion rush pushed Stoneham’s lead to 40-30.

Then after forcing a three-and-out, the Spartans launched a seven-play, 44-yard scoring drive, as several runs by Nutting, Bruno, and Colin Farren moved the ball to the Burlington five. Then Nutting took the next carry to the end zone for the score, and Caruso’s two-point conversion run extended Stoneham’s lead to 48-30.

“Even when we cut it to 32-30 I knew we’d need to keep scoring to stay with them,” said MacKay. “But then Stoneham scored twice and we just couldn’t stop them. It was definitely our best offensive game of the season, but while I felt we battled defensively, what Stoneham was doing was just too hard for us to stop.”

Even down 18 points the Red Devils produced one more highlight. From their own 10-yard line, Noke threw a pass which Doherty caught at the Burlington 30. Then he shook off a Stoneham defensive back, and high-stepped it all the way to the end zone 90 yards for his fourth score, to cut Burlington’s deficit to 48-36.

But that would be the Red Devils’ last highlight, as Doherty was flagged for his high-stepping which led to a missed two-point conversion run. Then on their next possession the Spartans took four plays to go 59 yards, capped by a seven-yard run for Bruno, to extend Stoneham’s lead to 54-36 early in the fourth quarter.

The Spartans would add two more touchdowns in the game’s final seven minutes, the first on an eight-yard run by Nutting, his third touchdown of the game, and a one-yard touchdown run by Farren, sandwiched around two Burlington three-and-outs to cap the game’s scoring.

Despite the 32-point setback, MacKay still felt along with Noke and Doherty several Red Devils deserved credit for their fine efforts. MacKay was also pleased with how his team’s offense produced easily its highest scoring output of the season in the first three quarters against their toughest opponent faced all year.

“I felt Tim Vadnais, Gabe Santiago, and Anthony Elkins all played really hard, and our offensive line battled up front,” said MacKay. “Stoneham is a really good football team, and they were great at what they did tonight. Yet we fought with them for three quarters before they just wore us down in the fourth quarter.”

Burlington next plays this Friday against a team and at a site to be determined.

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