Published November 8, 2019

Burlington routed 48-9, Magicians appear tonight


MELROSE—The Melrose Red Raider football team shows no sign of slowing down as they blew away Burlington (3-5) in a 48-9 rout last Friday night at Fred Green Field in the opening round of the Div. 4 North playoffs. Melrose senior captain Chris Cusolito scored four times for the Red Raiders including a 70-yard kickoff return.

Tonight, Melrose hosts Marblehead, a team they beat in 2017 for the Div. 4 North title which helped pave the way for their trip (and win) at Gillette Stadium.

Last Friday, Cusolito amassed over 200 total yards over the night with his four touchdowns and now sits at the top of the division with 19 touchdowns.

SCORES OF Burlington defenders couldn’t stop Billy Pesce or the Red Raiders during Melrose’s 48-9 rout of Burlington. Tonight, Melrose hosts Marblehead in the Div. 4 North semifinals. (Steve Karampalas photo)

It was junior quarterback Brendan Fennell who scored first for Melrose on a quarterback keeper after Burlington turned the ball over to Melrose senior captain Billy Pesce on their opening possession, marking the beginning of a long night for the Red Devils. Fennell was pretty spotless and found a good target in Brendan Maher over the evening. Melrose senior captain Sean Herbert broke up a pass by Burlington QB Khyle Pena and thwarted any scoring chance on Burlington’s next possession. Tackles by Andrew Norton Jefferson, Mical Duntin and Micye Duntin helped also force punts and keep Burlington scoreless until the second, when Shawn Pinkhan scored on a 78 yard kickoff return. Prior to that, Melrose scored three times on a 70 yard and 15 yard rushing touchdown by Cusolito and a 5 yard TD run by junior Matt Hickey.

Bill Pesce took command before halftime with a 8 play drive that culminated in a 12 yard touchdown to make it 34-7 before the half. Melrose’s Charlie Haggerty came up with a Pena pass for an interception and that led to Fennell connecting with Cusolito on a 40 yard touchdown, making the game 41-7 at the half. Burlington would committ three turnovers over the night which helped Melrose pull away early.

Melrose opened the second half on a 70 yard kickoff return touchdown by Cusolito to make if 47-7.

A clock-draining fourth quarter saw a safety add two more points to Burlington’s total, but the end result was another Melrose blowout as they await a competitive Marblehead (6-2) team tonight.

After the game Melrose coach Tim Morris spoke of the importance of maintaining focus against a familiar opponent. “We wanted to play our best game, and not go into it thinking ‘oh you know, we already played them.’ We stayed focused and played solid on both sides of the ball.”

He was happy with the running game from Cusolito, Pesce, Fennell and Hickey. “They got good touches on the ball and I think our offensive line has come along making it possible for those guys to run the ball that way, and also for [Fennell] to throw the ball when we needed to.”

He also credited defense for virtually shutting down a talented QB in Khyle Pena. “Our ‘D’ did a good job against a very good quarterback, and I thought the secondary did well and put some pressure when we needed it.”

Next on the list is Marblehead who come to Fred Green Field tonight for a chance to advance to the Div. 4 North Finals. Kick off is at 7:00 p.m.