Melrose improves to 2-1; hosts Wilmington tonight

Published in the September 28, 2018 edition


WATERTOWN—It was a battle between the Div. 4 Super Bowl Champs and the Div. 5 North Champs, and a key Freedom League game. But the Melrose Red Raider football prevailed, defeating league rival Watertown, 28-13, on the road on Friday, Sept 28 at Victory Field. The win improves Melrose to 2-1, just a week after their first loss in nearly two years to Lincoln Sudbury. And tonight, Melrose looks to start a new winning streak when they host Wilmington at 7:00 p.m. at Fred Green Field. 

Melrose senior back Kevin Peete was the star of the night with three touchdowns and over 240 rushing yards against Watertown (1-2), while Melrose junior Chris Cusolito ran for over 100 yards. Cusolito got Melrose on board first with a first-quarter touchdown. But it was Melrose’s defense who nailed down the win by preventing several fourth down conversions, including two on the goal line. 

CHRIS CUSOLITO scored first for Melrose as they improved to 2-1 with a 28-13 win over Watertown on the road last Friday night. (Donna Larsson photo)

Melrose took a lead of 7-0 in the first quarter thanks to junior Chris Cusolito, who returned a kickoff to the Watertown 45. Melrose quarterback Jesse Gardner connected with Billy Pesce, who broke through several tackles to help advance the ball to the 10, and from there Cusolito ran in a 10-yard touchdown. On Melrose’s ensuing possession, Watertown made it to midfield before Melrose defense clamped down on the Raiders and Jared Karelas sacked quarterback Nick McDermott. 

On another Watertown possession, the rival Raiders nearly scored on a McDermott keeper on 4th and 1 at the goal line, but fell inches short and Melrose took over on downs. The Red Raiders were forced to punt, and Watertown advanced on a series of carries and passes to the Melrose 25 and 15-yard lines. The Raiders went for it on 4th and 2 on the 11 but Melrose defense once again ran a wall against them and denied first down. At halftime, Melrose held a narrow 7-0 lead with Watertown dominating most of the possession but failing in the red zone. 

Watertown received possession after the half and launched a 7-play drive that ended when McDermott was sacked, forcing a punt that landed on the Melrose 34 yard line. Kevin Peete soon took off on a 32-yard touchdown to put Melrose up 13-0 with four minutes left in the third. 

But Watertown was relentless on the ground, crossing once again deep into Melrose territory and positioning themselves first and goal and subsequently scored to make it 13-6 at the start of the fourth quarter. Melrose’s Kevin Peete nearly ran a kickoff return back to the end zone but stepped outside around the 50-yard line. But he picked up a series of carries, the last a 6-yard touchdown run. Melrose held a 21-6 lead with 7:00 minutes left in the game.

Watertown threatened once more in the red zone, but another fantastic fourth down goal-line stand by Melrose defense officially took the wind out of Watertown’s sails. A 65-yard touchdown run by Peete was made for good measure that gave Melrose a 28-6 lead, and Watertown scored with just a minute left but Melrose worked the clock in victory formation and took the win. 

Tonight, Melrose hosts Freedom rival Wilmington (1-2), a strong foe from 2017 who is coming off a loss to Wakefield last week. Action takes place tonight at 7:00 p.m. at Fred Green Field.