Marblehead falls to Salem in Chernovetz’ return

SALEM – Marblehead football coach Doug Chernovetz returned to the Magicians sidelines last night after missing the first two games of the season due to a two-game suspension.Unfortunately for the squad, the team’s losing ways also returned, as Marblehead was dropped from the unbeaten ranks by Salem, 14-8, at Bertram Field.”It was nice being back, but it wasn’t nice being back with a loss,” said the fourth-year coach. “Salem always plays us tough, and with their running game (the Witches amassed 221 yards on the ground), our defense was on the field constantly and getting tired as a result.”Both teams traded possessions to begin the game; then Salem utilized its running game to pick up it first score midway through the opening quarter. Back Melikke Van Alstyne (22-93) gained 14 yards on first down, then teammate Eugene De La Cruz (17-73) brought the Witches (3-0) into Marblehead territory with his five-yard carry to the Magicians’ 46. Salem continued to pick up valuable first downs, yet faced a fourth-and-3 from the Marblehead 17. The third back of the triumvirate, Davis Kendrick, burst through the defense for five yards to the 12, and De La Cruz polished off the drive two plays later with his four-yard score.The Magicians (2-1) moved ahead with their first play of the second period. Marblehead took over at its 47 after a punt, and didn’t waste any time. Halfback Nick Haller (7-75) gathered the handoff and outran everyone into the end zone for a 53-yard jaunt. The team lined up for the kick, but holder Hayes Richardson faked the flip to kicker Ian McKinley, stood, and threw to wide-open receiver Taariq Allen for the two-point conversion and an 8-6 lead.Yet the Magicians, who had run only seven offensive plays up to that point, saw Salem march downfield on its way to the go-ahead touchdown. The Witches kept the drive alive when a Marblehead penalty on fourth down put Salem across midfield. Later in the possession, Salem faced fourth-and-8 from the Marblehead 18. Quarterback T.J. Larivee fired his only pass of the day, a 14-yard strike to receiver Ramon Rodriguez, for a first down at the 4. De La Cruz added his second score four plays later from the two, with Van Alstyne adding the two-point run for a 14-8 Salem edge.”Our offensive line did the job for us,” said Witches coach Scott Connolly. “Our game plan was to keep their offense off the field, as they have some explosive players. And our defense made some big plays as well.”Neither team could do anything in the third quarter and early stages of the fourth, though Salem was able to move the ball consistently. Marblehead had a chance to pull the game out with just over a minute to go, with Richardson gaining five yards on a keeper to the Magicians’ 40 on fourth-and-2. Yet his pass on the next play was tipped and eventually picked off by defensive tackle Tyler Mason to seal the win.

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