DANVERS — While Danvers moved the ball against the Reading High football team’s defense, when it mattered most, the Rockets made the plays they needed to make.
Playing on the road for the first time this season, Reading shut out Danvers for the entire second half and withstood a threat on the final series to the game to prevail, 14-10 on Friday at Morose Field at Dr. Deering Stadium.
The kids just had to keep playing and focus on the next play,” said Reading coach John Fiore. “They learned a lot tonight.”
Reading (3-0) secured the victory with 1:01remaining in the fourth quarter. With the Falcons on the Reading 27, junior defensive back Brendan Lindmark made an interception at the 16 on the left sideline, allowing the Rockets’ offense to run out the clock.
“I was just on my guy,” Lindmark said. “We were in man. I could see the ball. I just reached up and I got it.”
Danvers (2-1) took over on its own one-yard line with 3:15 left to go after Reading turned it over on downs inside the 10 for the second straight series. Three times on fourth down, the Falcons converted, twice on penalties. The first was a pass interference call that moved the ball to the Falcons’ 16.
After another first down, on fourth and 10 at the 26, Falcons’ quarterback Travis Voisine completed a five-yard pass to Owen Gasinowski. A facemask call at the end of the play brought the ball to the Falcons’ 26.
Two plays later, Voisine completed a 22-yard pass to Colin Kelter to put the ball on the Reading 27. Two plays after that, Lindmark made the pick the ended the threat.
“We just had to stay calm,” Lindmark said.
The first quarter ended with the score tied at 7. Reading finished its first possession with James Murphy (17 for 24, 242 yards) finding Colby Goodchild for a 28-yard touchdown pass down the left sideline.
On the next series, the Falcons came back to tie the score on an 8tard run up the middle from Dominic Baez.
Three plays into the second quarter, Murphy scored his first rushing touchdown of the season when he went around the left end and reached the end zone from the 17 with 10:46 left in the half.
On its final two possessions of the first half, the Falcons made it inside the Reading 20. Right after the kickoff that followed Murphy’s go-ahead touchdown, Voisine connected with Aris Xerras for a 40-yard gain to the Reading 28. Two plays later, Gasinowski carried the ball 16 yards to the Reading 9 for a first-and-goal. The Falcons made it to the three on the next two plays before Aidan Smith kicked a 20-yard field goal to make it 14-10 with 6:30 left before halftime.
The Falcons had a chance to take the lead before halftime after Gasinowski picked off a pass and returned it 16 yards to the Danvers 48. Danvers reached the Reading 11 before holding and illegal shift calls moved the falcons back to the 25. Voisine recouped 3 of those yards on a pass to Baez on third down. Smith came back out to attempt a 39-yard field goal, which fell just short.
“I’ve learned a lot from John Fiore,” said Danvers coach Ryan Nolan, who played and coached at Stoneham High School. “They play great defense. Their offense is very good.”
Twice in the fourth quarter, Reading had the ball inside the Danvers 10. After a 21-yard pass from Murphy to Aidan Bekkenhuis put the ball on the Danvers 4, an illegal motion call and a sack on two of the next three plays brought the ball back to the 12. An 8-yard completion from Murphy to Alex DiNapoli brought the Rockets back to the four, but the Falcons stopped Murphy two yards short of the goal line on fourth down.
After Danvers went three-and-out on the next series, the Rockets had one more chance to make it a two-score game, starting at the Danvers 31. A 28-yard pass from Murphy to Jesse Doherty gave Reading first and goal at the eight. Goodchild carried the ball up the middle for gains of threeand two yards to the three. Murphy plunged through the line to put the ball on the one on third down.
The series ended after Murphy’s fourth-down pass to Bekkenhuis in the end zone fell incomplete.