MARBLEHEAD — The Swampscott football team jumped out to an early 10-point lead at Piper Field during the annual Thanksgiving rivalry showdown with Marblehead. But once the Magicians settled in, there was no stopping them as they rolled to a 35-17 victory Thursday.
Marblehead now leads the all-time series with Swampscott 54-51-7.
“Going down 10-0 that quickly is not ideal, but I basically told everyone, ‘look, we just have to keep executing, keep plugging away, and the points will come,’” said Marblehead quarterback Andy Clough, who ran for 114 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries and threw for 182 yards and a touchdown. “Obviously, they came.”
Early on, the Big Blue was in the driver’s seat. After Marblehead went three-and-out in its opening drive, Swampscott marched down the field and to the goal line thanks to a pass interference penalty. The Magicians defense bent but never quite broke, forcing Swampscott to go for the field goal on fourth down. Thomas Frisoli knocked a 29-yarder through the uprights, and it was 3-0 Swampscott.
The Big Blue took advantage of another three-and-out for Marblehead, and this time found the end zone as Colin Frary hit Emmanuel Teshowa with a 53-yard touchdown pass in front of the Swampscott bench, and it was 10-0 midway through the first quarter.
“Certainly we were surprised Swampscott got up on us, but I remember we were saying, we will be ahead by the second half,” said Marblehead coach Jim Rudloff. “It was great for the seniors, and it’s a mental game on Thanksgiving, and for these guys in a game like this they have to keep their heads. That didn’t always seem to be the case for both teams, but I think our guys did a great job overall.”
However, once Marblehead found its rhythm, it was tough to slow it down. Marblehead rattled off 28 unanswered points in the latter half of the first quarter, holding Swampscott scoreless until after halftime. Clough first found big receiver Derek Marino for a 51-yard gain, and finished the drive with a 3-yard pass to Dewey Millett to cut into the lead at 10-7.
Clough struck again early in the second quarter, this time on the ground. Lineman Tim Cronin created a hole for the big quarterback, and he was off and running, going 75 yards for the score.
The Magicians weren’t done. The Clough and Marino connection struck again for a 45-yard gain later in the second, and Cronin punched it in from the 1 for a 21-10 lead.
Perhaps the highlight of the day was a double-pass play, as Clough flipped a lateral to Millett, who found Seamus Keaney with a 32-yard touchdown pass to make it 28-10.
“That was my idea, I will take credit for that,” Rudloff said. “Dewey’s physical stature as a tight end and blocker made it so that when he got the pass, no one expected him to throw it, even though he played quarterback for two games. That was a great play, it worked out perfectly.”
Meanwhile, Swampscott’s drives were stalling early and often. Frary was sacked for the third time in the half on the Big Blue’s final drive, and a bad bounce on the punt resulted in great field position for Marblehead.
“We had some broken routes, some plays that were there that we could have executed,” Swampscott coach Bob Serino said. “I thought our coaching staff put a great plan together, but you have to catch the ball, run the ball and do our jobs. A few times we let them get to our quarterback, and those sacks will kill you.”
Swampscott got through the rest of the quarter unscathed, and tried to steal the momentum back right away in the second half. On the first play of the half, Frary found Isaiah Bascon with a 60-yard touchdown pass to cut into the lead at 28-17.
But Marblehead answered quickly with a 69-yard drive that included a 46-yard pass to Teddy Mayle and ended with an 11-yard touchdown run from Clough.
Marblehead threatened again in the fourth, but Lucas Cote’s interception in the end zone gave Swampscott some life. The final six minutes were filled with penalty after penalty — some valid, some not, according to both coaches — until the Magicians got the ball back with 2:40 to play and ran down the clock.
“We had some big plays against us, and we had some chances and didn’t execute them, but they were there,” Serino said. “I don’t know what I’m going to do right now, with this senior class that started my career as head coach … it’s going to be very, very tough.”
Swampscott ends its season at 7-4, while Marblehead finishes at 10-1 for the second straight year.