Melrose (5-0) tops Stoneham, 44-38 in clash of unbeatens

Published in the October 13, 2017 edition

ISAAC SEIDE was a scoring machine for the Melrose Red Raider football team, who pulled off a tremendous overtime comeback win over Stoneham last week, 44-38, to remain undefeated at 5-0. (Donna Larsson photo)


MELROSE — If Melrose residents heard an extraordinary amount of cheering around 9:00 p.m. last Friday night, blame the Melrose Red Raider football team who pulled off a 44-38 overtime win against unbeaten Stoneham (4-1) in overtime at Fred Green Field. It was a remarkable, come-from-behind win against a relentless Spartan team with a lot of stake: both teams came into the game at 4-0 looking for a league jackpot. Now, Melrose, at 5-0, remains perfect on the season and in the driver’s seat in the league and division.

Melrose’s Rey Guity and Isaac Seide were once again a steady 1-2 punch, as the duo combined for five touchdowns, and Melrose’s Colin Keirnan had the game (and tackle) of his life, stopping a sure touchdown by Stoneham’s Tre Pignone in the final play in overtime. Couple that with a solid second half from Melrose QBs Charlie Stanton and Jack Sullivan, and a timely pickoff by Gabe Nyland, nearly every Raider came off the field a hero.

The game really came down to one overtime play. With the score tied at 38-38 in regulation, officials lined Melrose up on the ten for a chance to score. Mission accomplished. Stanton handed off to Isaac Seide for a TD on the first down and Melrose took a lead of 44-38 (2 pt. fail).

Stoneham (4-1) then had their turn, and Melrose’s defense held the fort, forcing a fourth and goal from the 6-yard line. Stoneham QB Jack McCabe threw a screen to a wide Tre Pignone who appeared to have a clear path to the end zone, until he was tripped up by 5’9 175 lb Melrose senior captain Colin Kiernan, who pulled the 6 foot running back down at 3-yard line. The sounds of victory were the perfect prelude for Homecoming weekend. Many alumni – included the team’s newest ones, were on hand to watch Melrose’s comeback.

“Our kids played their hearts out for four quarters and then some,” said Melrose coach Tim Morris. “They didn’t panic and just kept playing. They came up big when we needed them to.”

Stoneham proved potent from the beginning. They opened the game with a 12-play opening drive that culminated in Pignone’s (4 TDs) 1-yard touchdown. The Spartans went for two (as they did all night, forcing Melrose to do the same) and made it a 8-0 game. But Melrose struck back on their first possession, when Rey Guity went 90 yards on a kickoff return to make it 8-6. Melrose faced an uphill battle before halftime, however, giving up two more touchdowns including a 56-yard touchdown pass from McCabe to Pignone, and a 45-yard interception return for a touchdown by Stoneham’s Seth Russell.

Trailing, 22-6, the Red Raiders were in an unfamiliar place this season, holders of a large deficit. But they held nothing back.

Stoneham’s choice of kicking off to Seide or Guity in the backfield was a hopeless one, and this time, it was Seide who ran the ball 54-yards to set up Melrose’s next touchdown: Jack Sullivan tossing a 6-yard touchdown pass to Jack Whitley. Stoneham 22, Melrose 14.

“Rey and Isaac have been a great force in our offense, and those on the team who blocked for them,” says coach Morris. 

And then, a play that changed the momentum of the game: Isaac Seide stripped the ball from running back Christos Argyropoulous on the 37, recovered by Keirnan, to give Melrose back possession. From there, Stanton connected with Mike Fennell for a huge 21 yard gain, and after a series of QB keepers and runs (Seide, Guity) Melrose found themselves poised to tie the game up. That happened with 4-yard touchdown run by Guity and an Isaac Seide two-point conversion. It was a new game at halftime, 22-22.

“We told them at the half, it’s a 0-0 game now,” said Morris. “We have a new chance to play from scratch. That key fumble was big for us.”

Penalties hurt Melrose in the opening of the third, squandering a large gain by Isaac Seide, and Melrose was forced to punt. But Melrose defense came up big on the ensuing possession, including a sack by Billy Pesce, for a loss of yards and a fumble recovered by Cam Rosie.

Pignone earned his third touchdown for Stoneham in the opening of the fourth quarter, after a botched Melrose punt put the ball on troublesome yardage. But Seide answered with a 21-yard TD rush and 2-point conversion to keep it a 30-30 game. One more time, Pignone found the endzone with just over two minutes to go, to give Stoneham a lead of 38-30 (2pt good) and Melrose was forced to rely on Guity once more for another score- and quick. No problem for Guity, who scored a 3-yard TD and Seide ran another conversion to tie it up again at 38-38. It was proving to be a wild game. 

With one minute to go, it appeared the game was coming down to last possession. Stoneham quarterback McCabe needed to score fast and he took to the air but right into the arms of Melrose’s Gabe Nyland, who nearly pulled off a pick six until taken down near the Melrose 40 by Seth Russell.

With less than three seconds left, Melrose chose to go for a 38-yard field goal. Melrose junior Kemar Bynoe had been hot all season and his kick fell slightly short. End of regulation. The rest, as they say, was history.

“What I love about this team is how they face adversity,” says Morris. “Stoneham has a terrific offense, tough to play against. But our quarterbacks rose to the occasion, and Colin had a huge tackle at the end. Each of our players never quit.”

The final score was a reflection of the amount of offensive damage Melrose and Stoneham can do, and a great indicator of their playoff potential. Fortunately, the two teams belong in different divisions (Melrose D4, Stoneham D6) so it’s sayonara to a pesky Stoneham team, who leaves the memory of great football behind.

Tonight, Melrose takes on Winchester at home at 7:00 p.m. The Sachems come into the game 1-4.