Published November 1, 2018


NORTH READING — North Reading High School’s 2018 football season was derailed last Friday night, as the Hornets were defeated at home by the Revere Patriots, 27-20. These were two evenly matched teams but Revere got the early lead and made more plays on offense for the victory.

“We knew they had some athletes on that team,” said first year Hornet Head Coach Eddie Blum. “It was an evenly match game, a little back-and-forth. We certainly would have liked a little more things to go our way, execution-wise, in the first half and sometimes you can recover from those things. Revere just kept battling and it was a good hard-fought game.”

The first points of the ballgame were not scored until 3:50 left in the second quarter with a touchdown by Revere’s Jon Murphy, which completed an impressive 11-play, 75-yard drive that took huge chunks off the game clock off, much like another Pats team. The extra point was good for a 7-0 Revere lead.

The TD looked like it would be it in terms of scoring for the first half but North Reading would give the ball back to the Pats and they put together another great drive. This one was much quicker, however, as it took six plays and 78 yards, concluding with Murphy finding wideout Eric Bua for a 15-yard hookup for a touchdown with just 21 seconds left in the first half. That seemed to be a big blow to the Hornets. This time the extra point was no good and it was 13-0 at the break.

JUNIOR Sean McCullough (51) plants a Revere ball carrier as the Hornet defense swarms to the ball. (John Friberg Photo)

North Reading got the ball first in the second half and would put together an impressive drive of its own. At times on that 15-play, 56-yard drive, the Hornets looked like they would have to punt the ball, but desperate times call for desperate measures, as senior captain and quarterback Matt Solecki converted on three separate fourth downs to keep the drive alive, finally ending in a 6-yard rush into the end zone by senior captain Alex D’Ambrosio. D’Ambrosio kicked the extra point to get the Green and Gold within six, 13-6, Pats.

The fourth quarter was crazy for both teams as both defenses started to wear down. Revere would increase its lead with a touchdown by senior running back Darius McNeil from 3-yards out and with the made extra point, it was 20-7.

The Hornets did not give up and on the pursuing drive, got back within seven points as Solecki found junior wide receiver Jack Keller for a 5-yard hook up. The extra point was missed so it was 20-13, with just 2:51 left in regulation.

The Pats would score yet again, putting the game away with a 22-yard rushing TD from McNeil. The point after touchdown was made and it gave Revere a commanding 27-13 lead with 1:14 left in the game. McNeil had a great game and looked unstoppable at times in the fourth quarter, increasing possessions with long rushes and making first downs to keep North Reading on the sideline. He would finish the game rushing over 100 yards and two end zone crossings.

The Hornets proved all season that they are not quitters and fought to the final whistle and did that again that night, as they would get the ball right back and went 56 yards in five plays for the final score of the game. Solecki and Keller hooked up again for a 19-yard reception with just 22 ticks left. The two-point conversion was good on a direct snap rush by Keller to get as close as the Green and Gold would get, 27-21.

The Hornets did try for a miracle onside kick but it was not to be, as Revere would recover the ball to end the game.

The bad news is the 2018 version of the Hornets are out of Super Bowl contention. The good news is they still have three games left in the season with the first coming tomorrow night on the road against Melrose, where their 2017 hopes of a championship ended with a fantastic game. Melrose won that matchup 27-26, but this should be another good ballgame with the festivities starting at 7 p.m.