BEVERLY — Down by two points at halftime, English football head coach Chris Carroll’s message to his team was to relax, simplify and execute in all phases of the game for the second half.
The Bulldogs did just that, scoring 3 touchdowns and holding the Beverly Panthers to 5 total yards in the final two quarters on their way to a 38-21 win at Hurd Stadium Saturday afternoon in the season opener for both teams.
“Sometimes you go into a half and you want to try to pump the team up a bit and sometimes you just need to relax, calm down and start executing,” Carroll said. “We simplified our defense and executed on offense in the second half.
“This wasn’t a pretty win for us. Beverly is a good team, but we executed and made big plays to win this one.”
The English offense was led by senior quarterback Matt Severance who completed 14 of 23 passes for 206 yards and 3 touchdowns while also adding a rushing touchdown. Prince Brown caught 7 passes for 168 yards and 2 touchdowns while running back Ishmile Bangura tallied 130 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground.
“We talk about how we have to make big plays,” Carroll said. “We pride ourselves on being an explosive offense. Prince had a couple huge plays and Matt threw some really good footballs and that’s what we needed.”
For the Panthers, senior quarterback Ryan Barror competed 10 of 21 for 140 yard with 3 touchdowns and 1 interception. Duncan Moreland caught 3 passes for 75 yards and 2 touchdowns.
“That’s a good team,” Beverly head coach Andrew Morency said. “I told the kids that they could be the best team we face all year and we happened to get them Week 1.
“I think that even though for us it’s a disappointment, we showed for one half that we can play with anybody. That’s a lesson that we can hopefully take moving forward.
“Defensively, unfortunately, we have some work to do,” he said. “For the rest of the year we have to get off the field on third downs. It happened last year too and we have to get better.”
English jumped out to an early lead thanks to a 70-yard touchdown run by Bangura and, after a recovering a squib kick on the ensuing kickoff, scored again on a rushing touchdown by Severance to go up 12-0 in the 1st quarter.
Beverly responded by putting together a drive of its own, capped off by a 20-yard passing touchdown from Barror to Moreland to cut the lead to 12-7.
Later in the second quarter, Severance found Brown wide open on a play-action pass for a 79-yard touchdown to go up 19-7.
But Beverly still had plenty of fight. Barror led the Panthers to another scoring drive ending with a 5-yard passing touchdown to Patrick Parsons. After forcing a Bulldog punt, Barror found Moreland on a 45-yard completion and again for a 10-yard touchdown to take a 21-19 lead with only seconds remaining in the first half.
The Bulldogs came out firing in the second half, shutting down the Panthers offense. The second half was highlighted by touchdowns from Brown, Bangura and Tahj Purter.
Carroll gave credit to his young players on defense for stepping up in the secod half.
“We started 10 sophomores today and had lost nine guys off our defense from last year,” Carroll said. “I’m proud of those guys, they stepped up. The experienced guys led and the youth brought some energy and made some huge plays. Players stepped up and just overall I’m proud of the execution.”
English (1-0) hosts Somerville (0-1) Friday night (7) at Manning Field.