LYNN — It’s tough to win a football game when you get outplayed in all three phases. That’s the lesson the English football team learned Friday night at Manning Field in a 41-28 loss to Malden Catholic — the Bulldogs’ first defeat of the season.
“Great job by Malden Catholic,” English coach Chris Carroll said. “They came in with a game plan, they executed it. They played harder than us, they played tougher than us and they did everything better than us today. They deserved that win.
“We can look at individual plays the whole night,” Carroll added. “The fact of the matter is you can’t turn the ball over. We had three turnovers. You have to tackle on defense, we didn’t tackle and that’s a credit to Malden Catholic. Special teams, you have to change the game with special teams and we didn’t do that at all. We lost in all three phases.”
Bulldogs quarterback/safety Matt Severance ran for three touchdowns, threw one and caught an interception. Severance completed 10-of-16 pass attempts for 160 yards. Ishmile Bangura carried the ball 14 times for 120 yards.
Both offenses ran out to quick starts in the first quarter. Zeke Bragg made the most of an open running lane and flashed his speed on an 84-yard touchdown run on Malden Catholic’s first play from scrimmage. Wasting no time, the Bulldogs scored on their first offensive play when Severance connected with Tahj Purter for a 64-yard touchdown pass. English’s Tyler Drinan and Malden Catholic’s Gerry Lopson nailed the PAT’s and the game started with a swift 7-7 tie. The Lancers keep their feet on the gas pedal on their next possession. Leonard St. Gourdon reeled in a 64-yard touchdown strike from Will Ragucci to reclaim the lead at 14-7 (Lopson kick).
That’s how it stayed until the closing minutes of the second quarter. Malden Catholic drove the ball to English’s 25 when a dropped pitch on third down forced a fourth-and-long. The challenge posed no problem for Ragucci, who found Nick Scarpello along the sideline for a 25-yard pass. Bragg punched in a 3-yard carry to pad the Lancers’ lead to 21-7 and intercepted a Severance pass to end the half.
“You have to tackle in football,” Carroll said. “(Malden Catholic) didn’t do anything we weren’t ready for. It wasn’t any wrinkle they put in. It’s an adjustment to make, to tackle and make plays.
“We’ve been good at making plays over the past year and half. We weren’t good enough at making plays (Friday). They wanted it more, they made more plays and that’s why they came away victorious.”
English’s offense regained momentum in the third quarter with a pair of Severance touchdown runs (five yards, one yard) after the Lancers scored on a 42-yard throw from Ragucci to St. Gourdon. St. Gourdon returned a kick 90 yards into the end zone and the Lancers led 34-21 at the end of the third quarter.
“We got back to what we do, pound the ball with Ishmile,” Carroll said. “We scored two straight touchdowns in a matter of a few minutes by feeding Ishmile, kind of going to the running game. It worked and then that kick return deflated a lot.”
Scarpello’s 35-yard touchdown catch placed English in a 41-21 hole with 7:53 left in the game. Severance answered with a 5-yard touchdown scramble two minutes later. With Malden Catholic stepping into English territory on the next drive, Severance intercepted a pass to give the Bulldogs late life. But the Lancers (1-2) sealed their first win of the season with an interception of their own on a Severance pass intended for Jadiel Tajada.
English (2-1) hosts Saugus next Saturday afternoon (2).