SWAMPSCOTT— Make that four consecutive Jeff Blydell Cup victories for the English football team. The Bulldogs outlasted Swampscott for a 33-30 win in an offensive slugfest Friday at Blocksidge Field.
English trailed 30-19 before closing the contest with consecutive touchdowns.
“I’m proud of the guys,” English coach Chris Carroll said. “Resiliency was talked about a lot at Thursday’s team dinner. What a way to come back and get this done.”
The Big Blue trailed 19-13 at halftime and proceeded to score the next 17 points. But Swampscott couldn’t hold on down the stretch.
“English has a lot of playmakers,” Swampscott coach Bobby Serino said. “We knew they could hit at any given time just like we did. They basically came out with the last score and that’s what it came down to.”
Swampscott’s hero of the night was Zack Palmer, who returned a punt and kickoff for touchdowns. He stripped free a ball and returned that too.
“Zack’s an athlete,” Serino said. “It takes 11 on the field to do everything. When I look at film, I’m sure I’ll see the returns we set up and he followed his blocking.”
English’s Mathias Fowler, making his debut at quarterback, completed 8-of-13 pass attempts for 180 yards and ran for 192 yards.
“Mathias, what a performance,” Carroll said. “I said it’s going to be a lot of fun to see what he can do and he didn’t disappoint.”
It was a punch-for-punch first half where both offenses made noise. English marched down the field on its first possession, capped by a 5-yard sweep into the end zone from Fowler (Tyler Drinan PAT).
Swampscott wasted no time answering. Palmer took the ensuing kickoff and ran it back 90 yards for a score (PAT failed).
Three minutes later, Fowler plunged into the end zone from two yards out to give English a 13-6 lead at the end of the first quarter (PAT failed).
Swampscott missed a 21-yard field goal at the start of the second quarter. English, just four plays later, stretched its lead to 19-6 when Fowler connected with a wide-open Tahj Purter (three catches, 147 yards) for a 39-yard touchdown pass (PAT failed).
Swampscott quarterback Graham Inzana sealed the half with a 6-yard touchdown keeper (Thomas Frisoli kick).
After Swampscott punted on its first possession of the second half, English went back to moving the chains. But Palmer ended the threat when he stripped an English ball carrier at his own 23 and ran it back 77 yards. Frisoli’s PAT gave Swampscott it’s first lead of the night, 20-19.
A Frisoli 25-yard field goal and Palmer’s 85-yard punt return (Frisoli PAT) put English in a 30-19 hole midway through the fourth quarter.
English sealed the game with 14 unanswered points. Purter closed the gap to 30-27 with a 5-yard run (Fowler conversion). He followed with a 73-yard touchdown catch to put English up 33-30 (PAT blocked).
“Our approach was to put the ball in the hands of our best players,” Carroll said. “We went back into shotgun and let Mathias go to work, Tahj go to work. There were big plays there. Our athletes made plays when they needed to make plays.”
Andrew Augustin returned the ensuing kickoff to English’s 30 but the Bulldogs’ defense held strong through to the finish.
English (1-0) travels to Beverly next Saturday (1). Swampscott (0-1) visits Salem next Friday (7).