Marblehead grinds out tough win over Peabody

Marblehead's Tim Cronin is stopped by Peabody's Frederick Koffi as he rushes the ball. (Spenser R. Hasak)

MARBLEHEAD — The Marblehead football team knew Friday’s game against Peabody would be a tough one. With heavy rain and a relentless Tanners defense, the Magicians had their hands full. 

After spotting the Tanners and early touchdown, Marblehead scored a pair of unanswered touchdowns in a 16-7 win at Piper Field. 

The Magicians remain undefeated at 5-0. 

For the majority of the night, the two teams kept the ball on the ground, hoping to mimic the early success that Peabody had running the ball, scoring on its first offensive possession.

With just 1:15 gone in the first quarter, Peabody used three plays and 70 yards from Angel Paulino to grab a 6-0 lead, and Joseph Swanton’s kick made it 7-0 out of the gate. 

Marblehead closed the gap with 4:28 to go before halftime, when Tim Cronin took it in from the nine, however the PAT boot failed and the Tanners took a 7-6 lead into the locker room.

Marblehead got the ball to start the third quarter, and quickly turned a 7-6 deficit into a 13-7 lead. Miles Smith, making his first appearance at quarterback, replacing Joshua Robertson after Marblehead’s first possession, took the ball in on the keeper from the two, and Eli Feingold split the uprights on the PAT to give Marblehead its first lead.

The key play on the drive was a conversion on a 4th-and-17 from the Peabody 23. Smith hit Ryan Freiberger on the five, and a personal foul call on the Tanners moved the ball to the two, where Smith took it home two plays later. 

Both Marblehead coach Jim Rudloff and Peabody coach Mark Bettencourt said that Freiberger definitely has the catch of the year so far, wind, wet ball, in traffic, and the senior was able to come up with it, keeping the drive going to set up the winning score.

The Marblehead defense held on the next series, and Tanners were forced to punt into the wind. The kick actually lost yards, setting up the Magicians at the Peabody 32. Eight plays later Feingold booted a 25-yard field goal to close out the scoring.

Bettencourt said his team is struggling to convert their third down plays, and find a way to win.

“We didn’t execute, and we didn’t convert on third downs, we didn’t make any offensive presence in the first half, and we give up a 70 yards and a score on the first drive of the second half, that can’t happen,” Bettencourt said. “They made some plays, but we’re doing just enough to lose, we’re not doing that little extra thing that we need to do to win.”

Rudloff said it was a slog, a sloppy game, and his team would’ve had a very tough time beating Peabody in ideal conditions.

“I don’t want to blame it on the weather, but to be honest, we came out for the third week in a row that we weren’t ready, it looked like we hadn’t practiced all week. Sure the weather was bad but we have to play better,” Rudloff said. “Give Peabody credit, they played hard, and with their offensive players, I think if the field was dry and we played that way, Peabody beats us.”

Peabody (3-2) travels to Swampscott next Friday (7). Marblehead has another tough test ahead next Friday (7) when the Magicians host Revere. 

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