SALEM — Chalk up the first win of the season for the Saugus football team. The Sachems dominated on both sides of the ball in a 36-18 win at Salem Friday. It was a long time coming for Saugus and first-year coach Steve Cummings.
“Being so close Week 1 (a 33-30 overtime loss at Bedford), losing our quarterback Mason Nickolas at Winthrop and then losing to two great teams, it’s nice to finally just get that one,” Cummings said. “We finally knocked that out of the way. Now you start getting a little bit more back to normal.”
Saugus’ run-heavy offense didn’t seem to mind the rain and wind. Quarterback Christian Correia (nine carries, 53 yards, one touchdown) and running backs Marvens Jean (14 carries, 89 yards, two touchdowns) and Sal Franco (10 carries, 89 yards, one touchdown) carried the offense.
More importantly, the Sachems defense forced five turnovers. Saugus recovered three fumbles and intercepted two passes, one returned for a touchdown by David Guillama.
“It actually didn’t rain as hard as I thought but the wind was a big factor,” Cummings said. “We talked about having two hands on the ball especially in the box. We’re run heavy so I knew with (Salem) being spread it would affect them more than us.”
Salem got started first in this one thanks to a big play from Devin Tolbert. Jeffrey Holloway hit Tolbert on a screen pass and he reversed field to avoid a handful of defenders on a 38-yard touchdown. Holloway ran in the 2-point try to give Salem a 8-0 lead.
A pair of turnovers gave the Sachems the spark they needed in the second quarter.
Salem’s fumble gave the Sachems possession at midfield and Franco ran for a 50-yard touchdown. Correia found Guillama on a 2-point pass to tie the game at 8-8.
On the ensuing kickoff, Salem fumbled again to set Saugus up around midfield. Saugus went right down the field and Jean capped the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run to put the Sachems ahead 14-8.
Saugus kept the running game going to start the second half. Correia took a quarterback keeper 27 yards for a touchdown and ran in a 2-point try to stretch the Sachems lead to 22-8.
Saugus started the fourth quarter with another score. Jean found the endzone on a 12-yard touchdown run to put Saugus ahead 29-8 (Javier Martinez kick).
Meanwhile, Saugus’ defense forced a fumble and a pair of interceptions, including Guillama’s touchdown run back, to stretch the lead to 36-8 (Martinez kick).
Salem got back on the board with a safety and a 7-yard touchdown run by Connor McRae but it was too little too late.
“It’s good to see the guys execute,” Cummings said. “Salem broke that big play early, (Tolbert) is a great player. But our guys kept our composure. They’re maturing as a team and getting more comfortable. A lot of that has to do with the way we’ve been practicing and the older guys making sure we stay the course.”
Saugus (1-4) hosts English next Friday (7) on the Sachems’ Senior Night at Stackpole Field.