The Sachems held an 11-point lead (25-14) with 9:10 to play before the Fishermen scored a pair of unanswered touchdowns to take the victory.
Saugus coach Anthony Nalen said it was tough to see the lead slip away in the fourth quarter, but he was still proud of his team for a strong performance.
“What I was looking for out of the team this year is to get better each and every week and we’re doing that,” Nalen said. “I told the guys that I just want us to get better every week. I’m very proud of their effort but losing by one point is frustrating.”
Saugus struck first on a 50-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Mike Mabee to receiver Ricky Martinez. Javier Martinez-Moretta added the PAT kick to give the Sachems an early 7-0 edge.
With a minute left in the quarter, the Fishermen answered. Quarterback James Nelson found the end zone on a 1-yard keeper to put Gloucester on the board. Saugus stuffed Fishermen running back Jan Pena-Ortiz on the ensuing conversion attempt, and the Sachems led 7-6 after one quarter.
Nelson intercepted a Mabee pass on the first play of the second quarter and Gloucester drove the ball 46 yards down to Saugus’ 6-yard line. But the Sachems dug deep and forced a turnover on downs to dodge the bullet.
Mabee redeemed himself for the pick by finding Vincent Cirame for a 92-yard touchdown pass to boost Saugus’ lead to 13-6. After the Sachems recovered the ensuing onside kick, Martinez made it a 19-6 advantage with a 50-yard touchdown run.
“The momentum was definitely on our side at thatpoint in the game and we do a good job when we have the momentum,” Nalen said. “We’re just trying to get that momentum on our side early.”
Gloucester knocked on the door again, driving to the Sachems 9-yard line, but Saugus forced a fumble to end the threat and led 19-6 at halftime.
“They executed the gamevplan the way we wanted them to and the way we worked,” Nalen said. “I told them I was proud of them (at halftime).”
Marc Smith’s 19-yard touchdown run towards the end of the third quarter made it a one-possession game at 19-14 (Pena-Ortiz conversion).
The fourth quarter was one for the books. The Sachems scored first on Marvens Jean’s 10-yard touchdown rush, placing Gloucester in a 25-14 hole with 9:10 remaining.
“That was a huge step for our program, to be able to take a punch in the mouth from Gloucester and come back with a touchdown drive,” Nalen said. “It’s fun watching the younger players grow up right before your eyes.”
Gloucester answered with 12 straight points to steal the win, 26-25. Nelson found a wide open Marc Smith for a 35-yard touchdown pass and Pena-Ortiz provided the winning score, with 3:11 remaining, on a 2-yard carry into the end zone.
Saugus (0-5) now aims to regroup before Friday night’s tilt against Winthrop at Stackpole.
“We have a big game against Winthrop under the lights,” Nalen said. “All eyes are on them. We’ll get ready and hopefully we’ll grab our first win.”
Saugus wore camouflage jerseys Saturday as the Sachems celebrated their Military Appreciation Day.