MARBLEHEAD — Revere football coach Lou Cicatelli says his Patriots will match up against anybody.
They proved him right Friday night, when Revere knocked Marblehead off the unbeaten ranks with a 31-27 win at Piper Field.
“They get bigger and bigger,” Cicatelli said. “We tell the kids each week that the games get bigger and bigger. Last week (32-30 over English) was a huge win. It had NEC South implications on it. But this one is what it comes down to. We know Marblehead’s a good football team. They win championships year after year. We had to play our A-game.”
Revere’s running game drove its offense in this one. Jonathan Murphy scored on the game’s first play from scrimmage and finished with 97 rushing yards. Joe Llanos continued his stellar season with three rushing touchdowns on 26 carries for 160 yards. Llanos’ 1-yard plunge with 49 seconds to play made the difference.
“Joe’s an absolute beast,” Cicatelli said. “What can I say? He’s been a great, great part of our success this year. When the game’s on the line, I said ‘let’s keep feeding him.’ He’s our guy and we’re going to win or we’re going to lose with him.”
Marblehead, with leading rusher Tim Cronin sidelined due to injury, turned to Will Twadell to carry the offense. Twadell scored twice via the rush, returned a kickoff for a 98-yard touchdown and finished with 110 rushing yards.
“We knew we didn’t have Tim,” Marblehead coach Jim Rudloff said. “We tried to get Will ready. We lost all four captains, we were down a starting lineman, a starting 2-way skill player. It was a rough night. But our kids were very tough.”
Despite the loss, Rudloff was pleased with his group’s effort.
“I’m just extremely proud, more proud of this team probably more than I’ve ever been of any other team,” Rudloff said. “We went out there with no bullets. We were losing firepower, it seemed, every drive we went on. We continued to fight. We had kids continue to work as hard as they possibly could.”
Murphy’s 80-yard touchdown run (Rayan Riazzi PAT) gave Revere a 7-0 just seconds into the game. That’s how it remained until Marblehead made the most of a Revere interception midway through the second quarter. Twadell picked off Revere quarterback Calvin Boudreau at the Patriots’ 28, setting the stage for a 27-yard touchdown toss from Joshua Robertson (14-of-22, 160 yards) to Mitchell Corelle. Eli Feingold split the uprights on the PAT, making it a 7-7 game at halftime.
Twadell returned the opening kickoff of the second half 98 yards for a touchdown (PAT missed), giving the Magicians their first lead of the night at 13-7. Llanos found the end zone from nine yards out, knotting the score at 13-13 (PAT missed). Riazzi’s 38-yard field goal put Revere up 16-13 headed into the fourth quarter.
Revere looked to distance itself at the start of the fourth, with Llanos scoring on a 4-yard rush three seconds into the period (Riazzi PAT). Showing no quit, the Magicians turned a 23-13 hole into a 27-23 lead in the blink of an eye. Twadell accounted for both scores, on carries of 60 and 25 yards, respectively (Feingold PAT’s). The Patriots marched down into Marblehead territory, with Llanos leading the way, and the Patriots took a 31-27 lead on the senior running back’s 1-yard run (Llanos rush on conversion).
After a pair of short completions from Robertson to Ryan Freiberger, Patriots linebacker John Tran sealed the win with an interception.
Revere (6-0) hosts Salem next Friday (6:30).
Marblehead (5-1) hopes to bounce back with a win at Danvers next Friday (7).