Manchester- The host Hornets came out strong at Joseph Hyland Field, looking to hand Lynnfield its first loss of the season Friday night. Manchester-Essex scored first, but then the Pioneers (5-0) scored 35 straight, cruising to a 35-14 win.
Lynnfield coach Neal Weidman said his team struggled early, leading 12-7 at the break, hitting its stride in the second half.
“They outplayed us in the first, we were up 12-7, but they didn’t deserve to be behind,” Weidman said. “They really played well early on, they outplayed us in the first half, but we played a much better second half.”
The Hornets took the opening kickoff and drove 66 yards, culminating with a 14-yard run by Robbie Sarmanian to grab the lead with 6:25 left in the first quarter. Anna Zerilli kicked the first of her two extra points and it was a 7-0 ballgame.
Manchester quarterback Cosmo Pallazola gave the ball to Sarmanian and Jake Athanas on the drive. The big play before the touchdown was a 30-yard run by Sarmanian, putting the ball deep in Lynnfield territory.
Lynnfield got the touchdown back after a 15-play drive that ended with a touchdown pass from quarterback Matthew Mortellite to receiver Cooper Marengi. The PAT kick was blocked, and the Hornets held a slim 7-6 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Manchester-Essex attempted to regain the lead in the second quarter. Gus Campbell picked off a Mortellite pass, giving the Hornets the ball on their own 20-yard line.
Manchester-Essex converted two fourth down plays to keep the drive alive, but on the third, facing a fourth and nine; they gave the ball up on downs.
The first play after getting the ball back set the tone for how the rest of the game was going to go for Lynnfield. Mortellite fired an 82-yard touchdown pass to Nicholas Kinnon. The conversion rush failed, but Lynnfield was up, for good, at the half.
Mortellite, who tied the school record for TD passes in a game with four against Manchester-Essex last season, did it again Friday night. The senior deflected praise from himself, giving credit to his line and his receivers.
“My offensive line did a great job in front of me and the receivers made the plays,” Mortellite said. “We won but we need to play better next week against Ipswich.”
Mortellite hit Leo Quinn and Tyler Murphy for scores, and Murphy also ran one in from 32 yards out. Sarmanian ran in from the three for Manchester-Essex’s second touchdown.