1 game away from Super Bowl bid; face Danvers tonight for ticket to Gillette
Published in the November 20, 2015 edition
By JENNIFER GENTILE
MELROSE — The Melrose High School Red Raider football team wasn’t going to let a 10 point deficit at halftime spoil their chances of earning another Div. 3 Northwest Sectional title.
No. 1 seed Melrose (10-0) responded with four unanswered touchdowns in the second half to defeat second-seed Concord-Carlisle, 38-20, to capture their third straight Division 3 Northwest championship last Friday, Nov. 13 at Fred Green Field in Melrose. Fueled by a stunning 4 TD performance by junior running back Mike Pedrini, Melrose now finds itself one win away from returning to the Div. 3 Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium on Dec. 5. Tonight they will play Danvers at 7 p.m. at the Manning Bowl in Lynn in the Div. 3 North Final. Winner goes to the Div. 3 State Championship (Super Bowl) at Gillette Stadium.
After the game Melrose coach Tim Morris credited his team’s second half performance. “It feels pretty good,” he said. “That was a good second half. Our defense really came up big and we really put up some points in the second half. It was a great team effort.”
Pedrini was hard to contain for Concord Carlisle (8-2). The junior rushed for 142 yards on 18 carries, scoring 4 touchdowns (3 rushing, 1 in the air) for a total of 243 yards. He also came up key on big tackles against a tough Kejuan Farquharson of Concord-Carlisle.
“Pedrini on both sides of the ball was just a man out there,” Morris said. “He did it running, did it defending and did it tackling.”
It was also a terrific performance from Melrose quarterback Julian Nyland. The senior went 9-15 in passing for 130 yards and rushed for 139 yards on 15 carries.
“He keeps improving,” Morris said of Nyland. “He’s definitely a double threat running and throwing the ball. He’s grown into the leader of our offense.”
It wasn’t easy since Concord-Carlisle took a 20-10 lead going into halftime. Concord Carlisle’s Kejuan Farquharson came as billed, proving to be a deadly runner in the first half, penetrating Melrose defense for over 100 yards before halftime. Melrose had scored on their first possession when Julian Nyland ran into the end zone for a 5 yard touchdown to give Melrose a 7-0 score. That certainly didn’t indicate an easy night for the Raiders, who clung to a 7-6 lead after a TD from Sam Randall and bad point after attempt. On Melrose’s next possession a pass intended for Will Brincheiro was picked off by Concord-Carlisle’s Jurgens Michel but damage was limited when the Patriots fumbled on their own 35. From there Nyland took over, marching the team up the field on a series of passes and rushes, including his 50 yard dash that set up a field goal by Mike Cusolito, giving Melrose a 10-7 lead.
Ferguson, however, proved tough to contain for the remainder of the quarter. Patriot QB Austin Hoey connected with the senior to set up a 10 yard TD run by Farquharson, and a 13-10 Patriot lead with 6:06 remaining in the half. Things went south for Melrose when they fumbled a kickoff return on the 33. The Patriots took over and Farquharson enjoyed an easy run into the end zone, giving Concord-Carlisle a 20-10 lead.
It was a new game, however, at halftime. Melrose made some defensive adjustments and Mike Pedrini could no longer be restrained by relentless Patriot coverage. He scored all four of his touchdowns in the second half, three rushing and one touchdown pass.
Melrose climbed back into the game with a 35 yard TD run by Pedrini, to make it a 20-17 game at the start of the second half. He also had a critical tackle on third and 5 when Concord Carlisle threatened on the 49, forcing the punt. This gave Melrose a chance to score again, with Nyland connecting with Pediri from the 36 into the end zone for a Melrose lead, 24-20. Melrose defense came alive in the second half, behind key tackles from Jared Botelho, Christian Perkins and Dan Ouellette. After Pedrini’s third TD of the night (a 3 yard TD), Melrose was poised with a fourth and goal on the 1 yard line with a lead of 31-20 and plenty of time left (5:20 in game). Brian Mercer denied Farquharson on the 2 and senior Jay Tyler had a monster tackle on the 1 to force Concord Carlisle to turn the ball over on downs. Overall, Melrose defense limited Farquharson to just 48 yards in the second half, helping fuel the victory.
Pedrini’s finale was an 89 rush from the 1 yard line that led to his fourth touchdown of the night, a 2 yard run into the end zone on the next down. Melrose forced two turnovers at the end of the game, with Will Brincheiro picking off a Hoey toss in the end zone to end the night, and the victory was Melrose’s, 38-20.
Tonight, Melrose (10-0) travels to the Manning Bowl in Lynn for the Div. 3 North title game against Danvers (8-2) which takes place at 7 p.m. Winner will head to Gillette Stadium for the D3 Super Bowl on Dec. 5.