WEST NEWBURY — Toward the end of Saturday’s 27-12 win by Pentucket over Lynnfield, the public address announcer said that this could very well be the last game ever on that field because the new school planned for the district will inhabit that space.
You couldn’t fault the Pioneers for thinking that maybe one game too many got played on that field. And while the Sachems’ colors are very clearly green, red was the color the Pioneers (3-1) had difficulty overcoming. As in “red zone.”
The Pioneers got into the red zone on at least three occasions, but could only convert once.
“We definitely have to learn how to finish,” said coach Pat Lamusta. “Especially in the red zone situations. On offense, and also on defense too.
“We have to do a better job,” he said. “We can’t have foolish penalties, and when we come up against a good team — and Pentucket is a good team — we have to match their intensity.”
Pound for pound, the Sachems (4-0) were just bigger, Lamusta acknowledged.
“We had a tough time stopping the run,” he said.
Lynnfield got off to a promising start when David Capachietti, who made 11 tackles on defense, returned a kick to the Sachem 45. But even though Lynnfield got down to the 19, the drive stalled on an incomplete pass on fourth down.
That enabled the Sachems to drive down the field on their first possession, with Keegan O’Keefe capping the 81-yard drive with a 33-yard reception on a Peter Cleary pass down the right sideline, with Aiden Tierney adding the PAT (one of three he kicked).
If there was any clearer indication of the type of day it was going to be, that was it. Lynnfield would grind it out only to lose the ball on downs only to have the Sachems get it right back downfield to score. On its first series of the second quarter, the Sachems were at it again, this time with Jake Etter hauling in one of Cleary’s three touchdown passes. This one was from 39 yards out.
Lest anyone think the Pioneers were going to roll over and allow themselves to get mauled, Clay Marengi ( 14-for-26, 266 yards, two TDs and an interception) put an end to those notions, finding Bakari Mitchell (7 catches, 104 yards, two TDs) on a 15-yard scoring pass with 3:56 to go in the half. Lynnfield started the drive on its own 44, with the key play in the drive being an 18-yard third-down pass from Marengi to Anthony Floramo (who would later leave the game with a leg injury, putting a severe dent in any Pioneer comeback attempts).
However, Pentucket stuck one in with under a minute to go in the second quarter when Andrew Joyce ran one in from 10 yards out, making the score 20-6 at the break.
After the Pioneers couldn’t get anything going to start the third quarter, Pentucket went 60 yards on five plays, the clincher being a 43-yarder from Cleary to Etter with 8:13 left in the quarter and it was 27-6.
Lynnfield had its best drive of the day in its ensuing possession, but it cost the Pioneers. They got the ball at their own 20, by virtue of a touchback. On a second-and-seven from the 34, Marengi hit Floramo with an 18-yard sideline pass. However, Floramo stayed down and had to be helped off the field as he couldn’t put any pressure on his leg.
On the next play, Marengi found Mitchell, who zig-zagged his way to the end zone for a 63-yard touchdown.
Though both teams were able to control the ball for long stretches after that, neither scored again. The Sachems ate up a huge amount of time on the clock by pounding the ball on the ground.
“We were a few catches and a few plays from making it a game,” Lamusta said. “We’ll learn from this.”
The loss was also costly in another way, as Pentucket and Lynnfield are both in Division 5. The Sachems jumped to the top of the rankings while Lynnfield will undoubtedly move down.