Sachems erase 21-0 Lynnfield halftime lead

Published in the November 11, 2015 edition

JUNIOR Kyle Hawes (8) tumbles into the end zone for the first Pioneer touchdown of the day. The junior caught eight passes for 77 yards during the Pioneers’ 28-27 loss to Pentucket Nov. 7.  (Tom Condardo Photo)

JUNIOR Kyle Hawes (8) tumbles into the end zone for the first Pioneer touchdown of the day. The junior caught eight passes for 77 yards during the Pioneers’ 28-27 loss to Pentucket Nov. 7. (Tom Condardo Photo)


WEST NEWBURY — In one of the most exciting high school football games in recent memory, the Pentucket Sachems edged the Lynnfield Pioneers 28-27 last Saturday in West Newbury in a grueling contest that wasn’t decided until the final seconds of the game.

The Pioneers (6-3) built a 21-0 halftime lead in a battle between the Cape Ann League Baker and Kinney Division winners but the Pioneers couldn’t hold off the charging Sachems (8-1) who scored four times in the second half to pull out the win.

After falling behind by a point with just over three minutes to play, the Pioneers mounted a furious, last gasp drive from their own 29 to the Pentucket 6 yard line. However, as the final seconds clicked off the clock, Dan Bronshvayg’s winning field goal attempt from 24 yards out sailed just wide left, sealing the Pioneers’ fate.

“In the second half obviously a lot of things didn’t go our way,” said Pioneer head coach Neal Weidman. “We played well at times but not as good at other times.”

Solid first half

The Pioneers bounced back nicely from last week’s playoff loss to Watertown by ripping through the tough Pentucket defense in the first two quarters, piling up 265 yards and 11 first downs. Quarterback Jake McHugh (18 for 25, 199 yards, 2 touchdowns on the day) got things started hitting Kyle Hawes with a 22-yard TD pass in the final minute of the first period. Bronshvayg slipped slightly on the bare dirt field and the extra point was no good. Hawes had a big day hauling in eight passes for 77 yards and the score.

The Pioneers got on the board again midway in the second when captain Drew McCarthy (19 carries, 178 yards, 2 TD’s) found a seam and motored 41 yards for a score. McHugh bulled in for the two-point conversion and Lynnfield led 14-0.

After taking over on their own 21-yard line with 2:39 left in the half, the Pioneers shifted into high gear, marching down the field to punch in another score. McHugh was 6 for 7 for 69 yards on the drive, including a six yard capper to Louis Ellis with 32 seconds to go to make it 21-0. Meanwhile, a physical Pioneer defense controlled the dangerous Pentucket wing-T holding the Sachems to 88 total yards of offense in the first half.

Pentucket comeback

Unfortunately, for the second week in a row, the Pioneers couldn’t hold off a furious opponent comeback. Things started to go sideways for Lynnfield on the second half kickoff when Robert Porter broke a couple of tackles to put Pentucket in great field position at the Lynnfield 36 yard line. That seemed to spark the Sachems who scored seven plays later on a nine-yard Finn Graham to Travis Bounsy pass to get on the board at 21-7.

The Pioneers offense couldn’t get untracked and after a quick three and out inside their own 15, the Sachems were back in business at the Lynnfield 49. A dubious pass interference call ignited another Pentucket drive capped by a 19 yard Graham to Liam Sheehy TD pass to make it 21-14 late in the third.

The next Pioneer drive died at their own 36 early in the fourth quarter giving the ball back to Pentucket. The Sachems quickly knifed through the Pioneer defense on a 66 yard drive with Sheehy going in from the eight to make it 21-20. The Pioneers blocked the point after touchdown (PAT), but were flagged for being offside. With the ball at the one and a half, Pentucket head coach Steve Hayden went for the two-point conversion but the Pioneers kept Sheehy out to preserve their one point lead.

McCarthy then revived the Pioneer offense on their next drive with consecutive runs of 4, 31 and a final 29 yards for a TD. A bad snap on the PAT try left the Pioneers with a 27-20 lead with four minutes left in the game. Pentucket wasted little time getting that back on the first play of their next possession, when Kiernan Haley ripped off a 59 yard run to the Pioneer 1 yard line. A horse collar penalty put the ball at the half yard line and Sheehy bulldozed in for the score to cut the lead to 27-26. Hayden again elected to go for the two but this time Graham found Haley to give Pentucket the winning margin.

The Pioneers have now lost two straight for the first time since they lost to Manchester-Essex and North Reading to end the 2011 season and then fell to Newburyport in the opening game of 2012.

This Week: Triton

It will be homecoming this week at Pioneer Stadium when former Lynnfield captain and offensive coordinator Pat Sheehan brings in his Triton Vikings for his first game against Weidman.

The two teams run basically the same spread offense, so it should be an interesting battle. The Vikes, a young team that has been decimated by injuries, comes into the game 4-5 after losses to Stoneham in the opening round of the playoffs two weeks ago and a heartbreaking 21-20 loss to Ipswich last week.

“It’ll be Triton vs. Lynnfield and will have nothing to do with Neal and I,” said Sheehan. “It’ll be the kids out there playing. It’ll be fun.”

Game time for this season’s final game at Pioneer Stadium is 7 p.m. on Friday, the 13th.