Magicians find their footing, defeat Swampscott

Marblehead's Derek Testa (center) joins his teammates in trading his cleats for sneakers to gain better traction on the Blocksidge Field turf Thursday. (Item Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

SWAMPSCOTT — Sometimes, it takes a village to get the job done.

For the Marblehead football team, Thursday morning’s Thanksgiving Day rivalry game against Swampscott could have gone very badly if not for the help of coaches, parents and fans. But in the end, a big turn of events in the second quarter wound up leading to a 30-14 Magicians victory at Blocksidge Field.

“When we came out on the field today in cleats, we realized that the cork in the turf had frozen due to the cold weather, and it was basically like concrete,” said Marblehead coach Jim Rudloff. “Then we saw Swampscott come out with sneakers on. So the entire first quarter, we’re sliding all over the field and Swampscott is moving at will. So our coaches were literally taking off their sneakers and giving them to kids. Parents were driving back to the school and breaking into the kids’ lockers to bring them their sneakers. Even kids in the stands, our former players, were giving away their sneakers to the kids. After that, we were able to get on track and make plays. I’ve never been a part of anything like this in my life, and for us to come out and win after what we were faced with early was incredible.”

The win makes the score 56-50, Marblehead, with seven ties. It was the Magicians’ sixth straight Turkey Day win.

Marblehead got big contributions from running back Tim Cronin, who rushed for 125 yards. Quarterback Chris Gally rushed for 86 yards and three touchdowns, while Dylan Clocker had an interception that he returned for a touchdown and Sean McCarthy had two interceptions.

For Swampscott, running back Dylan January rushed for a touchdown and receiver Andrew Augustin returned a kick 75 yards for a touchdown. Quarterback Graham Inzana completed 18-of-35 passes for 135 yards.

“It’s obviously tough to lose a game like this, especially when we were able to jump out to an early lead,” said Swampscott coach Robert Serino. “But when you lose the turnover battle, it’s tough to win against a good team.”

Swampscott took an early 7-0 lead following a long drive on its first possession of the game. The Big Blue drove down the field in 10 plays before January punched in a touchdown from one yard out.

Marblehead was able to get on the board early in the second quarter on a 27-yard touchdown run by Gally, but the extra point attempt was blocked to keep the Big Blue ahead 7-6.

The Magicians got their first turnover of the game later in the second quarter on an interception from McCarthy. A 48-yard run by Cronin set Marblehead up in the red zone, and Gally finished off the drive with an 8-yard touchdown run to take the lead 14-7.

But just when the Magicians thought they had stolen the momentum, Swampscott scored on the ensuing kickoff when Augustin fielded the ball at the 25-yard line and broke free for a 75-yard return touchdown to tie the score at 14-14.

But while Swampscott took the momentum into the locker room at halftime, Marblehead stole it right back in the third quarter. On the third play of Swampscott’s opening drive, Clocker picked off Inzana’s pass and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown to go up 22-14.

The momentum remained on Marblehead’s side from there, and Swampscott couldn’t get within striking distance again. Marblehead eventually capped off the win with a touchdown late, when Gally rushed in for an 11-yard score to make it 30-14.

Rudloff noted that winning the turnover battle was huge in a game with the conditions the way they were.

“We put an emphasis on it every week, and this is why,” Rudloff said. “Everyone stepped up when they were needed, and to have Dylan and Sean make those big plays was huge for us.”

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