St. Mary’s football outlasts Boston English in season opener

The St. Mary’s football player Tony Bello (55) lifts Ali Barry (3) up in the air in celebration during a game against the Lynn English Bulldogs at Manning Field on Thursday night. (Olivia Falcigno)

LYNN — The St. Mary’s football team grinded out a 6-0 win over Boston English on the Spartans’ opening night Thursday at Manning Field. 

St. Mary’s struggled on offense against the Eagles big defensive front but the Spartans executed just enough in the second half to escape with the victory. The Spartans’ defense allowed just 66 total yards and forced three turnovers in the win.

“Our defense is the strong point of our football team,” St. Mary’s coach Sean Driscoll said. “They won us the game (Thursday). But (Boston English’s) defense actually manhandled us up front. I think we made a lot of mistakes on top of that which didn’t help. That shouldn’t happen. But I give Boston English credit. I watched them play last week, they took it on the chin a little bit and they bounced back hard.”

Running back George Percy was the workhorse for the Spartans with 15 carries for 65 yards, with 43 yards coming in the second half. Quarterback Derek O’Leary added the game’s only score on a 3-yard run.

“(Percy) came out in the second half with an attitude,” Driscoll said. “He’s a sophomore, so this is the first varsity game for him really. He was running downhill and he got the rhythm going a couple of times when we needed it.”

Turnovers hampered both offenses in the first half. St. Mary’s threw an interception on the game’s opening drive, but Boston English failed to capitalize. Later in the first half, two different fumbles set up St. Mary’s inside the Boston English 15-yard line. But each time, the Spartans gave the ball right back with a fumble themselves. Both teams combined for five turnovers before the break.

“We had some missed assignments,” Driscoll said. “That was a bad call by me on the first pass of the game. We had some momentum running the ball, had gotten a first down. Throwing the ball on first down was not the best decision. I’ll eat that one.”

After a stalled drive to start the half St. Mary’s took advantage of a short field to get on the board. A nice bounce on a punt set the Spartans up at the 36 and Percy started the drive with a 23-yard run to get St. Mary’s into scoring position. A few players later O’Leary’s 3-yard touchdown run put the Spartans ahead 6-0 (conversion failed).

The Spartans offense then took advantage of an Eagles’ interception with a six-minute drive, leaving Boston English with less than two minutes left on the clock.

From there, back-to-back sacks from Nick Nowack and Zach Barden sealed the game for the Spartans.

“We can take some of the good points out of this game,” Driscoll said. “A win is a win, but we have a lot of work to do offensively, especially up front. We have a young offensive line and young team in general.

“The good news for my team is that they persevered and they played hard,” Driscoll said. “We played good defense especially down the stretch when we could’ve been worn down. I’m happy for a win but we’ve got a long way to go with a tough schedule.”

The Spartans (1-0) host South Boston Friday (6:30).

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