Since there’s no high school football season this fall, the Town Crier has been publishing archive game stories of old TMHS Football games, matching up the current week’s game. Below is the week six game from the Town Crier October 29th, 1980 edition that saw the Redmen defeat Lowell, 21-6.
Redmen running backs Tom Horgan and Frank Fay swept, banged and weaved their way through the Lowell High defense, as Tewksbury High School rolled to a 21-6 victory over the Millers before a chilled throng at Lowell's Cawley Stadium Friday night.
Horgan and Fay enjoyed their best overall games of the season, helping to offset a shaky (for him) performance by senior All-MVC quarterback Dennis Vecchi, who was hurt by two interceptions, including one theft that was returned for 30 yards for a touchdown to cut the Redmen lead to 14-6 at halftime.
The Redmen, who practiced under the lights Thursday night in preparation for the rare night game, didn't let the unusual environment or the cold effect their quickness and finesse game, as they came right out and took it to what is a good Lowell High team.
The victory sets up a showdown between the MVC division leaders this Saturday at the Walter R. Doucette Memorial Field in Tewksbury, as the Redmen, (5-1-0) leaders in the heated MVC West race, tangle with the burly Lawrence Lancers (6-0-0), who have dominated the MVC thus far.
Friday night it was again a case of Tewksbury being prepared for anything that Lowell had to offer. The home club was immediately forced into a prevent defense, as the Redmen and Vecchi came out in the shotgun passing formation more time than they had all season, and this had to be a bit of a surprise for Lowell High coach Walter Nelson, who admitted before the game that Tewksbury was the quickest team his Millers had faced in 1980.
After a Lowell punt late in the opening quarter, the Redmen took off on their first scoring march of the night, fired by a 21-yard scamper by Horgan, who at 5-foot-3, 140 pounds is the smallest – and perhaps the toughest running back in the conference.
Three runs later by the Horgan-Fay speed combine pushed the ball to the Lowell 12 as the opening quarter came to a close. Tewksbury then set up Lowell for the "Hulk Attack" with a pair of runs by Horgan covering five yards to the seven.
Vecchi then found his favorite receiver, tight end Mike Prescott, prowling and snarling over the middle for a six-yard catch-run down to the one. The Redmen offensive line, a small but sturdy group that has turned in a steady job all season, then sprung Horgan through a crack over the left side for the six points. Kicker supreme Charlie Santos toed the PAT to give the Redmen a 7-0 edge with 8:35 remaining in the first half.
The Redmen defense then forced Lowell to cough up the ball after only three plays on the ensuing series, and the visitors went on an impressive march to take a commanding 14-0 lead.
On this series, it was the junior Fay's turn to break loose for a long gamer, as Frank went wide left, breaking several tackles enroute to a 16-yard pickup to the Lowell 45 on the first play of the drive.
The Fay bolt set the tone for a crisp Tewksbury series that included a five-yard completion to the burly Prescott, a quarterback sneak by Vecchi for the first down on a fourth-and-one at the Lowell 25, and finally a big scramble by Dennis down the sideline where he was the victim of a late hit and a personal foul penalty that pushed the football to the Lowell four.
Tewksbury then overcame a dash of adversity when a four-yard TD pass to Horgan was wiped out by a pass interference call on Fay, who had pushed off the Lowell defender in the end zone just before the Horgan catch.
The Redmen quickly forgot about the momentary setback, as after the ball was backed up to the 19 yard line following the penalty, Vecchi stepped back and spotted that man again – Prescott crossing over the middle like a train looking for the nearest wreck.
Once again Mike latched on to the Vecchi pass, the Lowell defensive backfield peeled back, as the Redmen had a 19-yard catch-run TD.
Following Santos' conversion, Tewksbury had a 14-0 lead with just 3:18 to play in the first half.
With 46 seconds to play in the half, the Redmen took over, and the team's coaches inexplicably called for a pass on first-and-15 from the TMHS 30 following a Tewksbury penalty.
The Vecchi pass was picked off by a Lowell defensive back in a prevent defense, as the theft covered 30 yards with Vecchi missing the TD saving tackle along the way.
The Lowell conversion attempt was botched, but the Millers had been given some hope for a second half comeback thanks to a play that Redmen assistant coach Gerry Rideout admitted later should never have been called considering the point in the game and Lowell's prevent defense.
The Redmen made a scary run at the rebounding Millers late in the half before the march stalled and time ran out at the home club's 13.
Lowell went to work on what by now must be considered a Tewksbury weakness – the defense between the tackles. Middle guard Karl Wilson, coming off a pair of excellent games, had a tough night against a quick Lowell High center before rebounding in the final quarter.
In that third stanza, Lowell carved big gaps between the TMHS tackles, and would have scored if not for a self destructing offense that was plagued by the inopportune penalty.
The home club slashed and banged its way down to the Tewksbury 20 before a pair of illegal procedure penalties pushed them back to the 30 and helped stall the drive.
Two consecutive Tewksbury passes were tipped away by the eager Redmen defense, and the TMHS offense took over at its own seven and drove the ball out to the Lowell 23 early in the final quarter to short-circuit the home club's surge.
Following a Lowell quick kick late in the quarter, the Redmen drove 48 yards for the cushion score, as Horgan cut back 10 yards for the TD with 2:33 left. Santos kick upped the lead to the 21-6 final. Fay set up the touchdown on the previous play with a 10-yard gallop.
Senior fullback Bob Byrd played an exceptional game on a gimpy ankle.