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FYI - The Hornets Were the Guests!

Hornets pound Georgetown  

By Matt Burke Sports Editor


GEORGETOWN — Manchester Essex's defense looked mighty suspect on the first play from scrimmage, but never after, as it ultimately held Georgetown to just seven points in a 28-7 Thanksgiving Day victory at Georgetown High School.

Royals receiver Niko Edwards, who was returning from an MCL injury, caught a Tyler Wade pass off a slant pattern and galloped 52 yards to the Manchester Essex 1 yard line just seconds into the affair. Edwards, however, came up limp and did not return to the game, suffering yet another knee injury.

Georgetown (1-10) would capitalize on Edward's reception as Wade would keep the ball himself on a one yard touchdown run. The upset-minded Royals would own a 7-6 lead heading into halftime.

"We really had a tough time on that side of the field," Manchester Essex head coach Mike Athanas said, referencing the muddy tracks at the end zone nearest to the high school. "It was just a really sloppy first half, but our kids kept battling."

The Hornets (5-6) looked like a transformed squad in the second half behind the running of quarterback Cory Burnham (30 att., 151 yrds, 2 TD) and running back Chris Dumont (15 att., 103 yrds, 1 TD), as they avoided the offensive penalties that plagued them in the opening half.

Burnham found a gaping hole on the left side of the line with 4:19 remaining in the third quarter and took it to the house untouched to give Manchester Essex a 12-7 advantage.

Burnham and Dumont would trade carries on their next possession to start the fourth quarter, setting up a one yard touchdown plunge by the muddied Burnham.

Georgetown would need to rack up points in a hurry, but its undoing would come in the form of a tipped pass that floated up and into the arms of Hornets cornerback John Beardsley for a clinching interception.

"Our defense really picked it up in the second half," Manchester Essex senior captain and defensive end Paul Pennoyer said. "We didn't give up a big play after that first one. It was good to end the season like this."

Georgetown received strong defensive efforts from the graduating Wade and Scott Perry, who had a second quarter interception. Wade also had a solid day passing overall, racking up 110 yards through the air on 6-of-18 passing.

"We missed on some opportunities to take a bigger lead into the half, so that was tough," Georgetown head coach Paul Sobolewski said. "But there are some things we can build on that we saw out there. We were an undermanned squad this year but there were some small accomplishments along the way. I do think we have a bright future."

For the Hornets, the seniors went out winners, particularly wide receiver Joe Burgess who caught a 29 yard touchdown pass from Burnham on 4th and 10 for the Hornets lone first half score. Burgess would also intercept Wade on the day.

Manchester Essex 28, Georgetown 7

At Georgetown High School FIRST QUARTER Tyler Wade 1 run 1:39 (Wade kick) SECOND QUARTER Joe Burgess 29 TD rec from Cory Burnham (2-pt fail) 4:52 THIRD QUARTER Burnham 28 TD run (2-pt fail) 4:19 FOURTH QUARTER Burnham 1 run 6:58 (Burnham 2pt run) Dumont 1 run 3:00 (Cooper Riehl 2pt run) INDIVIDUAL STATS RUSHING: ME - Burnham 30-151-2, Jake Fitzgerald 12-78, Chris Dumont 15-103-1, Cooper Riehl 1-3; G - Tyler Wade 10-3-1, Scott Perry 1-3, Colby Ingraham 1-0, Jackson Fritz 2-5. PASSING: ME - Burnham 2-7-43-1-0; G -Wade 6-18-110-0-2. RECEIVING: ME - Mavrick MacEachern 1-14, Joe Burgess 1-29-1; G - Niko Edwards 1-52, Ingraham 2-7, Thomas Zargai 1-11, Perry 1-30, Pat Bjork 1-10.



Hornets defense comes up big in road win


LYNNFIELD - After four straight defeats, Manchester Essex was more than ready to scrap for a win.

Saturday's contest at Lynnfield Middle School was surely no artistic beauty, but the Hornets defense came up with several big plays throughout the course of the game to come away with a 7-6 road victory, their most impressive of the season.

"It was nice, we just had too many losses in a row," Manchester Essex head coach Mike Athanas said. "Defensively (assistant coach) Mike Brennan came up with a great defensive game plan and we mixed up the coverage a lot. Then our kids just came up with some huge plays."

Defensive back Joe Burgess was the headliner for a Hornets defense that held Lynnfield quarterback Michael Karavetsos to just six completions on 22 attempts (72 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT). With Karavetsos on the sideline briefly due to injury, Burgess picked off Pioneers backup Alex Roper midway through the second quarter and returned the interception 56 yards to give Manchester a 7-6 lead.

Burgess would record his second interception of the day on a tipped Karavetsos pass with 8:30 remaining in the fourth.

"He sat in coverage and read the quarterback perfectly," Athanas said. "Those were two great plays and gave us a ton of momentum both times."

Lynnfield had two late drives that had plenty of potential due to untimely Manchester Essex penalties. A roughing the passer flag, a pass interference call and a personal foul gave the Pioneers plenty of life and advanced the ball from Lynnfield's own 6 yard line to Manchester Essex's 46 as the clock inched closer to the two-minute warning.

Karavetsos found receiver Steven Yobaccio on a curl pattern for a gain of 15 but Manchester Essex defensive back Seth Cohen stripped the ball and it was recovered by Chris Dumont.

"Everyone on defense was making big plays out there," Burgess said. "We knew they were going to throw the ball a lot and we were worried about stopping the pass. But we put it all together today and got back on the winning track."

Defensive end Paul Pennoyer, defensive tackle David Wright and freshman linebacker Doug Rodier consistently put pressure on Karavetsos and Co. and the secondary of John Beardsley, Brian McAuliff, Burgess and Cohen did not allow any large Pioneer pickups.

Cooper Riehl was able to bat down a pass on Lynnfield's last gasp attempt on 4th and 3 to seal the Hornets win.

Manchester Essex 7, Lynnfield 6

at Lynnfield Middle School



L - Karavetsos to Yobaccio 20 pass (kick no good)

ME - Burgess INT 56 yrd ret (Burgess kick good)


RUSHING: ME - Fitzgerald 11-20, Burnham 17-43, Beardsley 2-22, Bergman 2-4, Dumont 8-39. L - Thomas 12-49, Karavetsos 4-1, Roper 1-4, McGah 1-0.

PASSING: ME - Burnham 6-14-50-0-1. L - Karavetsos 6-22-72-1-1, Roper 0-2-0-0-1.

RECEIVING: Fitzgerald 2-4, Riehl 1-15, Beardsley 1-0, Burgess 2-23, Dumont 1-8. Yobaccio 3-60-1, Varano 1-5, Thomas 1-0, Ashwell 1-7.

Hornets fall to Ipswich


MANCHESTER — Manchester Essex went into its game with Ipswich last night not wanting to be deceived by Ted Flaherty's Wing-T.

By the time the Hornets figured things out, it was far too late as Flaherty's Tigers earned a 39-20 road victory.

"We really got off the ball this week and we loved playing on this surface," Flaherty said of the FieldTurf at Hyland Field. "It really helps out with the offense we run, with all the sharp cuts, and we were able to get off to a good start."

Bruising back Derek Chamberlain (21 carries, 123 yards, 3 TDs) plowed in on a trap from 10 yards out to give the Tigers a 6-0 lead. By the end of the first quarter Ipswich had built up a 12-0 advantage thanks to a 42 yard punt return by Louis Galanis, with Peter Moutevelis (14 carries, 134 yards, 3 TDs) plunging in from four yards out for the score.

"We came out flat as can be," Hornets head coach Mike Athanas said as his team was down 26-0 at the half. "We just didn't come ready to play. (Ipswich) has a very good team but it was just a matter of us not executing out there."

Manchester Essex would eventually make a game out of it, however, as it came out firing to start the second half. Just 3:13 into the third quarter, the Hornets had cut the Tigers lead in half (26-13) due to a pair of pretty drives put together by quarterback Cory Burnham. Burnham rushes of 22, 35 and 21 yards off tackle allowed Manchester Essex to score a pair of quick-hitting touchdowns. The latter of the Hornets scores came courtesy of a successful onside kick by Joe Burgess, who recovered it himself.

Burgess would attempt to replicate the play two times after the successful try but his luck ran out.

"They do a great job with those (onside) kicks," Flaherty said. "We knew they were coming every time, but still had trouble with it."

An insurance touchdown run by Chamberlain from six yards out gave the Tigers a 33-13 advantage with 7:41 remaining. The Ipswich back carried the ball five times for 39 yards on the drive to finish off Manchester Essex.

Ipswich improved to 3-5 on the season and remain alive in the race for the NEC/CAL fourth tier title. The Hornets, meanwhile, fell to 3-6 on the year.

Ipswich 39, Man Essex 20

at Hyland Field, Manchester

Ipswich (3-5) 1214013—39

Man Essex (3-6)00137—20

I - Chamberlain 10 run (pass fail)

I - Moutevelis 4 run (kick no good)

I - Moutevelis 10 run (Galanis kick)

I - Chamberlain 4 run (Galanis kick)

ME -Burnham 1 run (rush fail)

ME - Dumont 1 run (Burgess kick)

I - Chamberlain 6 run (Galanis kick)

ME - Dumont 3 run (Burgess kick)

I - Moutevelis 23 run (kick no good)


RUSHING: IPS I Chamberlain 21-123-3, Moutevelis 14-134-3, Galanis 5-8, Murray 1-10, Gallagher 1-0, Andreas 1-0. ME I Fitzgerald 8-17-0, Riehl 0-1-0, Burnham 15-101-1, Dumont 8-26-2.

PASSING: IPS I Andreas 0-3-0-0. ME I Burnham 2-8-56-0-0

RECEIVING: ME I Beardsley 1-3, Burgess 1-11, McAuliff 1-42

Manchester Essex falls in battle of the Hornets

NORTH READING — The Manchester Essex football team is officially in an offensive funk.

Ever since the Hornets beat Austin Prep three weeks ago they have struggled to get anything going on the offensive end against quality opponents. The slump continued Friday night as the Hornets dropped a 14-0 decision on the road to North Reading in Northeastern Conference/Cape Ann League Division 4 play.

With the loss Manchester Essex drops to 3-5, it's third straight defeat. To make matters worse the Hornets have scored just a pair of touchdowns in the three losses.

"We had a nice play here and there but we couldn't string anything together," Manchester Essex head coach Mike Athanas said. "We didn't execute on the offensive end. If you allow 14 points you will win most of the time but not tonight."

Manchester Essex had it's chances twice driving into North Reading territory late in the first half and late in the fourth quarter. North Reading, however, stopped them on downs in the first half and came away with an interception late in the fourth to preserve the win.

"Give North Reading credit," Athanas said. "They made the plays when they needed to."

North Reading head coach Jeff Wall, whose team picked up it's fourth straight win and moves to 5-2 on the year, praised his team's toughness.

"This game was a grind," Wall said. "(Manchester Essex) is a scary team, they're tough and they're big, but we executed and made plays on defense when we needed to make them. We bent a little bit but we didn't break."

The North Reading offense was led by bruising running back Carl Lipani, who ran for 179 yards and a touchdown on 33 carries. Lipani, who also added a fourth quarter interception on defense, was North Reading's workhorse as he wore down the Manchester Essex defense and picked up several key third down conversions. On the game North Reading converted eight of 11 third down opportunities which may have been the difference.

The biggest third down conversion of the game came on North Reading's first drive of the game when CJ McCarthy took an inside handoff 50 yards on third down and 10 for a touchdown and a 7-0 North Reading lead.

"We can't allow a play like that," Athanas said. "We need to stop them on third and 10 in their own territory. Especially if they are running the ball."

North Reading continued to plug away at the Manchester Essex defense, chewing up valuable clock time and keeping Athanas' offense off the field en route to a 7-0 halftime advantage.

North Reading broke out again in the third quarter on an eight play 57 yard drive that took almost five minutes off the clock, culminating with a Lipani one yard plunge on third and goal to make it 14-0. Lipani carried the ball on all eight North Reading plays on the drive that included runs of 23 and 20 yards.

Manchester Essex tried to answer back in the fourth but Lipani came up big again with an interception at the 5 yard line with three minutes to go. North Reading then ran the clock out for the win.

"This win showed a lot of character and the kids are starting to buy into the system," Wall said. "We are a young team but we played a good football game against a tough team tonight."

North Reading 14, Manchester Essex 0

at North Reading High School, North Reading

Manchester Essex (3-5)0000—0

North Reading (5-2) 7070—14

NR- CJ McCarthy 50 run (Eric Valenti kick)

NR- Carl Lipani 1 run (Valenti kick)


RUSHING: Manchester Essex — Jake Fitzgerald 12-30, Cory Burnham 5-26, Connor Bergman 1-(-9); North Reading— Carl Lipani 33-179, CJ McCarthy 5-48, Jackson Kellogg 7-12, Mike Cresta 1-0.

PASSING: Manchester Essex — Burnham 8-17-115-0-2; North Reading — Kellogg 0-2-0-0-0, Lipani 0-1-0-0-0.

RECEIVING: Manchester Essex — Joe Burgess 1-62, Fitzgerald 4-39, Cooper Riehl 1-11, John Beardsley 1-2, Henry Gedney 1-1; North Reading — none.

Hamilton-Wenham dashes past Hornets

MANCHESTER — Through five non-league games Hamilton-Wenham could easily have laid claim to being the best team out of the 24 squads in the NEC/CAL super conference.

One league game in, that status stays the same.

The Generals (6-0) thumped Manchester Essex, 35-6, at Hyland Field Friday night and remained the only undefeated team in the four tier conference as quarterback Trevor Lyons rushed for 145 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

"We treated this game like we were 0-0," Hamilton-Wenham head coach Andrew Morency said. "Our running game is the strength of our team and when we keep it simple and pound it a bit we're tough to beat."

It was quite evident early that the Generals would carve up the Manchester Essex defense on the ground.

On the very first play from scrimmage, Lyons faked a handoff and ran wide to the sidelines for a 14-yard pickup. Two plays later, he was into the end zone on a beautiful sweep as he read his blocks perfectly and sprinted down the visitors sidelines for a 46-yard touchdown run.

The junior signal-caller opened the second quarter in similar fashion as he did all the legwork on a 14-yard touchdown scramble to give Hamilton-Wenham a 14-0 advantage.

"We knew going in that we had to contain (Lyons) and not allow him to take it to the outside but it's a lot harder to actually do it, he's a good player," Manchester Essex head coach Mike Athanas said. "That's a very good team we faced today and allowing them to get those big runs early really hurt us."

The Hornets finest offensive production occurred early in the contest as well as a 32-yard pass completion from Cory Burnham to John Beardsley and a 19-yard run by Cooper Riehl pulled Manchester Essex to within striking distance. Hamilton-Wenham cornerback Matt Putur thwarted the Hornets scoring chance, however, as he made the play of the night. Burnham looked to the back corner of the end zone from 27 yards out but Putur leapt over a pair of Hornets receivers and came down with the ball for a magnificent interception.

Putur would also recover a Manchester Essex fumble in the third quarter to put the game on ice as the Generals had built a 28-0 advantage by that point.

Scoring the lone touchdown for the Hornets was Mavrick MacEachern on a 38-yard pass play from Burnham with 9:38 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Ugly Loss: Knights stingy defense beats Hornets

WAKEFIELD- As the old saying goes, offense wins games, defense wins championships.

In Saturday's matchup between Manchester Essex and Northeast, the Golden Knights proved why they have won two straight Super Bowl titles as their defense was dominant in a 26-7 win over the Hornets at Northeast Regional Vocational High School.

"Without a doubt they played well and they are a very good defensive team," said Hornets head coach Mike Athanas, who's team falls to 3-3 with the loss. "They executed up front and it hurt us. For the first time all year we had trouble up front with some of their linemen."

Northeast (5-1) head coach Don Heres also praised the play of his defense.

"Our defense played physical and they played with a lot of pride," Heres said. "They played as hard as they could for four quarters and they played well."

The Golden Knights defense held Manchester Essex to just 85 yards of total offense. In fact, The Hornets gained more yards on Northeast penalties (120 yards) than they did offensively.

The turning point of the game came early in the fourth quarter with Manchester Essex trailing 12-0. The Hornets had a first and goal from the Knights one yard line but could not get a score. Northeast picked up a sack on second down and held the Hornets on third and fourth down incomplete passes.

The stop was big for Northeast, but what happened after was even bigger. The very next play Golden Knights quarterback Troy Tartarini took a simple quarterback sneak up the middle from his own one yard line 43 yards to the 44 yard line.

"On that play I just wanted to get us away from the goal line," Heres said. "But he found a seam and picked up a big gain."

Four plays later Bobby Novello (181 yards rushing) raced 42 yards to the end zone for a 20-0 Northeast lead, a potential 15 point swing that pretty much ended the Hornets hopes of winning.

Manchester Essex, however, didn't go away quietly as Cory Burnham scored on the ensuing drive. The Hornets then recovered an onside kick but could not reach the end zone. Fullback Jonathan Hughes sealed the deal with a 26 yard touchdown run as time expired.

"They execute better then us," Athanas said. "I thought our defense did a great job stopping them early in the second half but we made a few mental mistakes on the goal line."

Northeast scored first late in the second quarter when Kenny Bartolo took a reverse 34 yards to the end zone giving Northeast a 6-0 lead.

The Golden Knights then made intercepted Burnham on the ensuing possession and took control of the game. Northeast went 38 yards in two plays culminating with a 22 yard touchdown reception by David Scott from quarterback David Mahoney as time expired in the half giving Northeast a 12-0 lead at the break. Scott out-jumped a pair of Hornets defenders to pull in the touchdown reception and all the momentum heading into the second half.

"We can't let something like that happen," Athanas said. "We were right there but we didn't make a play. You aren't going to win when you allow a team to score a touchdown on a long pass play with no time left in the half."

Late drive lifts Hornets over Austin Prep

Hornets Sit at 3-2 With Matchup at Northeast Friday Night

MANCHESTER— Friday nights non-league matchup between Manchester Essex and Austin Prep at Hyland Field came down to just one play.

With 1:25 to play Manchester Essex was facing a fourth down and goal from the 11 yard line trailing 18-14. That's when Hornets head coach Mike Athanas reached deep into his playbook.

Quarterback Cory Burnham, who kick started the drive with a 56 yard scamper down to the four yard line, rolled to his left eluding a relentless Cougars pass rush and then threw back to his right hitting running back Jake Fitzgerald on a designed screen. Fitzgerald then picked up a key block from John Beardsley and found the end zone with what turned out to be the game winning touchdown in a nail biting 21-18 Hornets win.

"(Austin Prep) was coming so hard and we were thinking about a middle screen," Athanas said. "But we thought that play could go bad so we changed it to an outside screen. If we completed it I knew we were going to get in (the end zone) and we did. We did a great job all around tonight and it was nice to finish this one off."

For three quarters the two teams were locked in a defensive struggle as a grinding Austin Prep rushing attack ate up clock time as did the Hornets running game and the teams went into the fourth quarter tied at 6-6. That all changed in the fourth quarter, however as each team's offense kicked into high gear scored a pair of touchdowns a piece.

Manchester Essex (3-2) took it's first fourth quarter lead with 9:38 to play on a Jake Fitzgerald nine yard touchdown run. The drive was once again powered by Burnham, who threw for a pair of touchdowns and ran for 191 yards in the game.

"Cory is getting better every week and tonight he showed how dangerous of a down hill runner he is," Athanas noted.

Austin Prep (1-3) answered back on it's ensuing drive when fullback Ryan Burke broke a perfectly executed guard trap 50 yards for a touchdown. After holding the Hornets to a three-and-out on the next possession the cougars struck again putting together an eight play 67 yard drive that culminated with a Nick Vitale two yard plunge, Vitale was also over the century mark in rushing on the day.

"Austin Prep did what they do well which is run the ball right at you from the wing-t," Athanas said. "It's tough to stop but I thought we made plays when we needed to."

But Manchester Essex came through in the clutch with Fitzgerald's late score. A Beardsley interception on the Cougars ensuing drive sealed the win.

The Hornets drew first blood early in the second after a scoreless first quarter of play when Burnham found Beardsley down the left sideline for a 30 yard touchdown pass. The drive was aided by a short field thanks to a blocked punt from senior captain Paul Pennoyer, who's block set up the Hornets at the Cougars 42 yard line.

Austin Prep, however, came right back two possessions later on a Vitale nine yard run to make it 6-6 at the break.

With the win Manchester Essex has now won two straight and three of it's last four. They have another tough contest next Friday night when they travel to Wakefield High School to take on old Commonwealth Athletic Conference rival Northeast (7 p.m.).

Athanas says the Hornets are just going to focus on improving, as they have over the first five weeks of this season.

"We have stepped up our game the last few weeks," Athanas said. "Tonight we showed that we can get it done in every facet of the game. Our offensive and defense did a good job and we did an outstanding job on special teams. The blocked punt was a huge play and our kick coverage was great."

Jake Fitzgerald rambled for 246 yards vs. North Shore

Hornets start fast, sting Bulldogs

MIDDLETON— It took just one play to set the tempo in Saturday's matchup between Manchester Essex and North Shore Tech; and it was the first offensive play from scrimmage by the Hornets.

After stopping North Shore Tech on it's first offensive possession, a nice punt from Jared Farese pinned the Hornets inside the 10 yard line. A false start penalty put Manchester Essex even further back and they set up shop with a first and 14 from their own four yard line.

Manchester Essex ran a simple trap from the shotgun position and Junior running back Jake Fitzgerald took it 96 yards to the house giving his team a 7-0 lead and a ton of momentum.

"It was a total team effort and a perfectly executed play," Hornets head coach Mike Athanas said. "We blocked it perfectly at the point of attack, blocked great downfield and Jake read his blocks perfectly and turned it on in the open field."

The play spring boarded the Hornets to 20 first quarter points and an eventual 27-8 win over the Bulldogs at North Shore Tech High School.

"That play shocked us," said North Shore Tech head coach Paul Worth, who's team falls to 0-4 on the year. "It took us a while to recover from it."

Fitzgerald finished the game off with a career high 241 yards rushing and three touchdowns, his second touchdown came on the very next drive when he took a handoff from the shotgun 56 yards to the end zone giving his team a 13-0 lead.

The Hornets (2-2) went for the jugular on the ensuing kickoff attempting and recovering an onside kick at midfield. It took the Hornets just three plays to score again when quarterback Corey Burnham scored on a one yard plunge three plays after hitting receiver John Beardsley with a 46 yard strike down to the four yard line. Manchester Essex led 20-0 after the first quarter, a score that would stick until halftime.

"Falling behind early like that was tough to come back from," Worth said. "We are a ball control team and we can't throw the football right now."

Manchester Essex put the game away in the opening drive of the second half. After the Bulldogs attempted and failed to recover an onside kick, the Hornets started the drive at the Bulldogs 49 yard line. 14 plays, two successful fourth down conversions and eight minutes later Fitzgerald capped off the drive with a one yard touchdown plunge giving his team a 27-0 lead.

It was the third touchdown on Fitzgerald's career day.

"(Fitzgerald) just knows how to run the ball," Athanas said. "He reads his blocks so well and knows exactly when to make a move or lower his shoulder."

Fitzgerald did have help, particularly on the offensive line as they opened up huge holes for him and drew the praise of head coach Mike Athanas. The defensive line of Paul Pennoyer, Sal Lupo, David Wright and Zach Fleming also drew high praise from the Hornets head coach as they dominated the line of scrimmage Saturday.

The Bulldogs spoiled the shutout with 30 seconds left in the game when Jazmanny Sanchez took a pitch 22 yards to the ends zone making it 27-8.

Joe Burgess with another tackle for the Hornets

Hornets can't convert in late stages, fall to Cathedral


MANCHESTER — The Hornets set themselves up nicely for a game-winning touchdown with just 32 seconds remaining but a fumble out of the shotgun was recovered by Cathedral and the Panthers escaped Hyland Field Friday night with a 14-8 victory.

"This was a great win for our program," said Cathedral head coach Duane Sigsbury, who also serves as the Manchester Essex head basketball coach in the winter. "In the first half, (Manchester Essex) did exactly what they wanted to do. When we had the ball we had a lot of success but it was just self-inflicted wounds that hurt us in the beginning."

Indeed Manchester Essex looked as though it had taken control of the game in the first half, holding an 8-0 lead at intermission.

With 7:29 left in the fourth, however, and the game still knotted up, the Hornets could not convert a 4th and 5 from the Cathedral 36 as Derek Welcome stuffed the rushing Chris Dumont.

The stop gave the Panthers life and on the very next play from scrimmage running back Geeavontee Griffith broke a tackle and found a clearing, dashing down the visitors sidelines for 47 yards. The big play set up a 14-yard touchdown pass from Matt Owens to Carlos Bermudez.

The Panthers' two-point conversion attempt failed, giving the Hornets plenty of time and opportunity for a tie or win with 5:58 remaining and just a six-point deficit.

Two big pass plays from Hornets quarterback Corey Burnham to wide receiver Brian McAuliff, one for 23 yards and the latter for 20, pulled Manchester Essex to within striking distance with 2:04 left.

Coming out of the two-minute warning, an offsides penalty was called on the Panthers and momentum seemed to be squarely in the Hornets favor. But a quarterback sack by Griffith on second down and a subsequent incompletion by Burnham set up the 4th down play that the Hornets fumbled away.

Manchester Essex got on the board first in the contest, with Dumont (26 first half rushing yards) running off-tackle for six yards and the score to make it 6-0 Hornets just prior to the start of the second quarter.

The Hornets then caught Cathedral off-guard as kicker Joe Burgess recovered his own onside kick, an 11-yard dribbler right up the middle. In fact, the play nearly worked twice as Manchester Essex rolled the dice again to open the second half.

"The Manchester kids battled," Sigsbury said. "Burgess made two perfect plays on those kicks. I knew it was coming but we couldn't do anything about it."

The Hornets got to eight points when Cathedral had a bad snap out of the shotgun in the second quarter as the ball fluttered into the back of the end zone for a safety.

Jake Fitzgerald once again led the Hornets rushing attack with 70 yards on 19 carries.

Hornets get big upset victory at Saugus

SAUGUS - Paul Pennoyer, Cooper Riehl, Joe Burgess, Mavrick MacEachern and junior quarterback Cory Burnham all looked the part.

Heading into the 2011 season, the bunch simply looked like a successful football team. But actual wins in 2010 were hard to come by, and a borderline blowout loss to Amesbury in Week 1 of this season provided little validation that the Hornets were for real.

Friday night they got their validation.

A relentless rushing attack provided by junior back Jake Fitzgerald and Burnham gave Manchester Essex an offensive jolt as the Hornets defeated Saugus 23-19 at Stackpole Field.

"I'm proud of the way we played," said Hornets head coach Mike Athanas. "(Burnham) did an amazing job running the team tonight. We gave up some big plays here and there, but overall it was a very good win for us."

The Hornets trailed the Sachems 19-15 heading into the final quarter of action but came up with several big plays to secure the victory. Burnham connected with Brian McAuliff on a screen play on 4th and 10 with 8:05 remaining to keep Manchester Essex within striking distance in Sachems territory.

More punishing runs by Fitzgerald and fake draws by Burnham out of the shotgun proved to be deadly for Saugus on that drive as Fitzgerald's plunge from 1-yard out, propelled the Hornets ahead.

Saugus still had plenty of time to counter, but linebackers Doug Rodier and Zach Fleming came up with a tackle for loss and a sack, respectively. A Sal Lupo interception on a fluttering ball by Saugus clinched it as time ran out on the Sachems.

Burnham looked good throwing the ball as well, hitting John Beardsley on a 38-yard corner pattern in the third quarter. That completion ultimately set up a 7-yard Fitzgerald touchdown run that made it 15-12 Manchester Essex.

Saugus answered every Hornets touchdown except the last. Running back CJ Randolph scored the first six of the game on a 49-yard run off a pitch with 7:09 left in the second quarter.

The teams were scoreless after one quarter and Manchester Essex held a slim 7-6 lead at halftime.

Amesbury downs Manchester Essex

MANCHESTER — Delante Castle had three rushing touchdowns for Amesbury, and the Hornets defense didn't have an answer for him as he led the Indians over the Manchester Essex 28-7.

"We struggled," Hornets head coach Mike Athanas said. "It's a matter of us not tackling. We are in the position to make plays and it is just a tackling process that we did not do well with tonight. We will work on that on Monday and hopefully get better."

Castle ended up getting most of the carries for the Indians, and he took advantage of that by dominating the Hornets defense.

For Manchester Essex, Jacob Fitzgerald had a breakout game in his first start for the Hornets. He ended up getting the only touchdown for ME on the ground and had many solid rushes resulted in first downs.

"I though [Jacob] did a nice job tonight," Athanas said. "It was his first start at tailback and I though, offensively, that he did a great job. He ran the ball well and he ran the ball hard. He did a nice job for us."

Hornets' junior quarterback Corey Burnham made his second start in his high school career as a quarterback, his first as an official starter. He completed four passes for 35 yards and also rushed the ball effectively.

"[Corey] did some nice things for us today," Athanas explained. "He completed some nice passes and ran the ball hard. He played a pretty decent game as it was his first start. He did everything we asked for."

The first quarter began with Amesbury getting one first down but eventually punting. Manchester Essex's first possession ended up as a three-and-out. The punt by Joe Burgess was returned by Castle all the way to the Hornets' 10-yard-line. Amesbury capitalized on that with an 8-yard rushing touchdown by Ben Cullen, but the extra point was blocked by Burgess. Manchester Essex then countered with a rushing touchdown by Jacob Fitzgerald. Burgess made the extra point, and the Hornets took a 7-6 lead.

On Amesbury's next possession, running back C.J. Collin had a rush for 44 yards that got Amesbury to the Hornets' 25-yard-line. Once the Indians got to the 7, Castle scampered in for another rushing touchdown. Quarterback Matt Talbot ran in for the 2-point conversion.

At the end of the half, when Amesbury was in Hornets' territory with 10 seconds left, Talbot threw a Hail Mary that was intercepted by John Beardsley to save a touchdown.

The second half began with Manchester Essex turning the ball over on downs on their first possession of the half. Amesbury then made the Hornets' defense look bad after Castle went for a 26-yard rush that brought the Indians to the Hornets' 10. Castle took in it two plays later for a 5-yard rushing touchdown, his second of the game. That gave Amesbury a 21-7 lead. Trying to get back in the game, Manchester Essex failed as they turned the ball over on downs again, coming up one yard short. Amesbury put the game away after Castle ran for a 39-yard touchdown, his third of the game.

The Hornets will travel to Saugus next week to face the Sachems, like Amesbury another Tier 3 team.

ME Gridiron Club 

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