Valiant effort by Peabody, but in the end, Everett pulls away

EVERETT – It?s hard to fathom a team?s showing more honor in defeat than Peabody did Friday night, as the Tanners slugged it out with perennial Super Bowl contender Everett before dropping a 55-41 shootout in the MIAA Division 1 North semifinals at Everett Memorial Stadium.?In taking a loss, I have to think our program took an enormous step forward,” Peabody coach Mark Bettencourt told his troops after the game, as a bitterly cold wind whipped across the turf. “You can be very proud of the way you played today. You played like champions and you battled that team.”For sure, the 10-time Super Bowl champions knew they were in a heavyweight fight, and it didn?t take long for that to sink in. Peabody (7-2) recovered a fumble on the first play from scrimmage and took the lead six plays later on a Doug Santos 3-yard run 3? minutes into the game.The quick score would be a foreshadowing, as the teams combined for 41 points in the first quarter and 915 yards of offense overall in as entertaining a high-school game as you will ever see.?Offensively, I couldn?t be happier,” said Bettencourt, who has turned around the Peabody program in only two years. “To come down here and play like this in this environment is a testament to these kids. We knew this was not going to be a game that anybody would think we could win.”Yet the Tanners trailed by only one point at the half, 21-20, after a scoreless second quarter and they were threatening to retake the lead on the first possession of the third quarter, driving from their 19 to the Everett 32. That?s when Lukas Denis reminded everyone why he is headed to Boston College to play defensive back next year.Denis stepped in front of Santos? halfback-option pass at his own 18 and bobbed and weaved his way 82 yards to the end zone.?Great players make great plays, and he?s a great player; that?s no surprise,” Bettencourt said of Denis.That made it 27-20 midway through the third period, and who would have thought that not even half the total points had been scored by that point.?We lost our defensive mojo in the second half,” Bettencourt said. “They did something we didn?t adjust to.”Everett (8-1) had to be feeling the same way after watching Santos compile 248 yards of offense (186 rushing, 62 receiving) and quarterback Mike Raymond throw for 282 yards (20-36) and two touchdowns.The Crimson Tide, who will play the St. John?s Prep-Central Catholic winner in the sectional final (state semifinal) next week, scored on all four of their second-half possessions, compiling 11 first downs on 17 offensive plays. They went up by two touchdowns three times, only to have the Tanners answer.A 37-yard TD pass from Raymond to Henry Hernandez with 1:14 left cut it to 48-41, but Everett recovered the onside kick and Luis Cardona ran 52 yards for the final score with a minute left.Peabody stayed in it in the first half thanks to a Raymond-to-Jake Doherty 3-yard TD pass and an electrifying 71-yard run by Santos. Denis was a one-man show for Everett, scoring on passes of 53 and 22 yards — two plays in which the vast majority of the yards came after the catch. Jean Richard hauled in a 46-yard TD pass from Jordan McAfee (10-16, 182, 3 TD).Jackinson Joacine and Cardona each scored two TDs in the second half for Everett. Santos (3 TDs overall) and Raymond (TD rushing and TD passing in the second half) made sure Peabody stayed within striking distance.

More Stories In Sports