Sullivan, Rourke, Adams star in dominating win
By TOM CONDARDO
LYNNFIELD — Asked and answered.
As the Pioneers steamrolled opponent after hapless opponent this season, there’s been a neon-light question mark hanging over their helmets. Many have minimized Lynnfield’s seven straight dominating wins by asking: Who have they played? Saturday night, in a cold, steady rain at LHS Stadium, the Pioneers yanked down that question mark and replaced it with an exclamation point, completely dismantling a very good Saugus team 42-6.
“We came out ready to play,” head Coach Neal Weidman said. “We just outplayed them from the start.”
The win propels the undefeated Pioneers (8-0) into the Division 4 North “final four.” They’ll host the Swampscott Big Blue Friday night in a semi-final game with the right to move on to the division final on the line.
Saugus (5-3) came in averaging over 36 points per game but limped out of town with their triple option flexbone attack shattered after managing only one score.
A ferocious defense, led by captain David Adams, Cam DeGeorge and Steven White, held the dangerous Saugus running attack to 249 yards, only 61 in the second half.
Offensively, quarterback captain Dan Sullivan and Jake Rourke keyed a Pioneer offense that was literally unstoppable. They scored on their first five possessions and six of their seven non-kneel down possessions overall. Only a fumble stopped their other drive.
“What we saw tonight was the difference between a program that knows how to win and a good team that’s new to playoff football,” said Joe Papagni, Saugus’ defensive assistant coach. “They are the real deal.”
Sullivan was the offensive star of the night, rushing for 180 yards and a TD and completing 6 of 7 passes for 83 yards and two TDs, his 13th and 14th of the season.
Sullivan’s partner in crime was Jake Rourke who rumbled for 106 yards and three touchdowns. His 18 points gives him 112 for his career and makes him the 16th member of the LHS Century Club. He is now tied for 10th place with Bruce Rothman (1969-70) on the all-time Pioneers scoring list.
Adams led a swarming defense that allowed the Sachems some early success but tightened the noose as the night went on and eventually choked the life out of them. Saugus moved the ball on their first two possessions but were stopped both times by the Pioneer defense – at the Lynnfield 20 and 28 yard lines.
“When we didn’t score early our kids were deflated,” said Papagni. “We couldn’t mentally recover.”
The Pioneers line play was dominating, controlling the trenches on both sides of the ball. After their first two drives, Saugus was held to 142 yards for the rest of the game. Quarterback Justin Winn (42 yards rushing) and running back Dan Cacciola (148 yards) were held in check after the first two drives.
“We knew about their skill players but we underestimated the ability of their line,” Papagni said. “They were a force.”
After stopping the Sachems on their opening drive, the Pioneers marched 80 yards on six plays behind the running of Rourke and Sullivan. Rourke powered in from the 9 for the TD and Dan Bronshvayg added the first of his four PATs to make it 7-0.
After the second stop, the Pioneers again knifed through the Saugus defense, driving 72 yards on five plays – 67 of them on three runs by Sullivan. Rourke punched it in from the 1 to make it 14-0.
Cacciola then got Saugus on the board with the first opponent touchdown scored in LHS Stadium on a 19-yard run. A bad snap muffed the PAT leaving the Pioneer lead at 14-6.
The Pioneers answered again with a 57-yard, four-play march capped by Sullivan’s 20 yard scamper to make it 20-6. A high snap caused the PAT to be blocked, ending a string of 24 straight PATs for Bronshvayg.
The Pioneers stretched the lead at the end of the half when converting captain Cam Rondeau’s 14th career interception into another score. Sullivan hit Rondeau with an 18-yard pass for the score. Bronshvayg completed his second two-point conversion pass of the year, this one to Alex Soden, to make it 28-6 at the break.
Saugus opened the second half with a failed onside kick giving the Pioneers a short field. They took advantage five plays later when Sullivan found C.J. Finn for an 18-yard TD connection. The Pioneers finished the scoring midway in the fourth when Rourke covered 45 yards on eight straight carries, the last one for four yards and the score to make it 42-6.
“This team has some goals set that they’re trying really hard to reach,” Weidman said about his squad. “They have to be the ones who want it. There’s not going to be any easy games so we just have to be ready to go.”
Up next: Lynnfield faces Swampscott in Div. 4 North semi-finals Friday night at 7 p.m. (see related story).