PEABODY –It was a battle for Tanner city bragging rights Friday night at rain-drenched Coley Lee Field as the hometown Peabody Tanners football team took on their Woburn counterparts in a non-playoff contest.
The game was a back-and-forth affair, but in the end, the Peabody Tanners came up short in a 28-24 loss.
Peabody led 24-21 after a 37-yard field goal by senior kicker Austin Leggett with 9:31 left.
But Woburn took back the lead with a 70-yard, clock-eating scoring drive that chewed more than six minutes, capped by a 3-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ryan Qualey to tight end Anthony Morales and point after by Ayob Essquabin.
With 3:17 to play, Peabody had good field position at its 35-yard line, but shot itself in the foot when assessed a delay of game penalty, followed by 2-yard loss on a botched run attempt, a sack and Alex DeNisco (3-of-11, 32 yards, INT) incompletion, turning the ball over on downs to Woburn with 1:32 to play, effectively ending the game.
“We were trying to go wide on that second down, but there was confusion, so that was a real killer, that delay of game penalty,” said Peabody coach Mark Bettencourt. “We had our opportunities, but couldn’t find that big play when we needed it. But we lost the game because we put no pressure on their quarterback. We couldn’t flush him out and that gave him time to read our defense and find open receivers. Their offense had a lot of diversity and ran some things we had not seen before, so that also hurt us.”
Peabody led 7-0 after the first quarter, thanks to a 79-yard fumble recovery and return by Luis Guridys. After Woburn tied the game in the second quarter on a 12-yard touchdown pass, Qualey to Tyler Parrish (Essquabin PAT), Guridys answered right back three plays later, exploding for a 61-yard dash into the end zone to make it 14-7 with 3:41 left in the half.
Woburn then drove 73 yards in nine plays, the final play a 4-yard dash into the end zone by Stephen Kolodko with 32 seconds left in the half to make it 14-13 at halftime.
Woburn regained the lead, 21-14, with 4:37 left in the third quarter on a 48-yard Qualey to Kolodko strike and Qualey to Ryan McLaughlin 2-point conversion.
With 1:23 left in the quarter, Colby Therrien pulled the Tanners to within one, 21-20, with a 1-yard plunge.
Guridys (4 carries, 96 yards, 2 TDs) was the man of the hour again, recovering a pooch kick at the Woburn 39, the second successful pooch kick of the game executed by Peabody. The drive stalled at the 20, but Leggett (3-of-3 PATs) split the uprights to make it 24-21, Peabody.
“Luis did everything in this game, he was everywhere on both sides of the ball and on special teams,” Bettencourt said. “I couldn’t be happier for him.”
The Tanners hope to wrap up the season in style with a Thanksgiving Day win over Saugus.
While Peabody leads the series, 44-33, and Peabody has won the last four contests games, Bettencourt expects a tougher Saugus squad will give Peabody a real battle.
“This is not the same Saugus team we have beaten these last four years,” said Bettencourt. “Saugus is the real deal this year, and considering all that program has gone through, they are having a great season. I expect we will need to play our best to come out on top. We need to finish the season strong as we have worked hard all year, so it’s important to come out with our best.”