By ANDREW MOUNTER
NORTH READING — The North Reading football Hornets fell for the fourth game in a row, as they were defeated last Friday night at home, 42–19, by the Triton Vikings. The trend of the Hornet defense failing to make the big stops on third and fourth down continued, as the Vikings kept getting chances to stay on the field, putting up 42 points, as the North Reading offense waited on the sideline to get their chance to shine.
“Last week Saugus converted 12 third downs and four fourth downs. I’m pretty sure Triton had third down success on us tonight,” said North Reading head coach Jeff Wall. (Triton converted six of nine third down attempts and two of three on fourth down). “Right now, we are having trouble tackling. We hit them in the backfield a few times but they just drove the pile, so we have to tighten that up.”
Both teams traded off their first possessions without scoring, so the first score of the game did not occur till the 3:13 mark of the first quarter when Triton senior quarterback Justin Cashman ran the ball himself into the end zone on a fourth down and goal at the North Reading 2-yard line. Plus, Cashman took the ball again to score the two–point conversion to give his Vikings an 8-0 led.
The Green and Gold would answer back with an impressive drive, including a big fourth down conversion of their own, as Hornet sophomore running back John Merullo ran for 13 yards on a fourth and four at the Triton 21. Two plays later, sophomore running Matt McCarthy got into the end zone from the Triton 2. The Bobby O’Donnell extra point is good to make it an 8–7 Triton led with 9:31 left in the second quarter.
The key part of the game came toward the end of the first half, as Triton would get two big touchdowns, once again from Cashman, this time scoring from five yards out, but the extra point attempt went wide of the goal posts keeping their lead to just seven points with 2:37 left in the first half.
When it looked like the Hornets would finish the half with the ball, the Green and Gold offense could not make the first down they needed to keep the drive going, so they had to punt. The Vikings took advantage driving to another touchdown, with just six seconds left and this time the extra point was good. At the half it was 21-7 Triton. The two touchdown deficit was a huge backbreaker for the Hornets.
Triton would extend their lead on their second procession of the third quarter, with the third Cashman touchdown, this time through the air, as he found Luke Boyle in the end zone from seven yards out. The extra point was good and Triton led by three touchdowns, 28-7.
It only took 1:20 for North Reading to get back on the scoreboard with one of the biggest plays from scrimmage of the season as McCarthy ran 75 yards for glory at 3:00 in the third quarter and the O’Donnell extra point attempt was good and the Hornets were back within 14 points, 28–14, Triton.
But Cashman and his Vikings would strike back on the very next play from scrimmage, as he ran it in from 64 yards out, for his fourth touchdown of the evening. The extra point try went through the uprights to give the Vikings a 21-point lead again.
Cashman was a one man wrecking crew, gaining 135 yards on the ground and 115 yards through the air, with four touchdowns.
McCarthy would get the North Reading touchdown hat trick with 8:46 left in the ballgame, as he went six yards for the score. The two-point conversion attempt failed and it was a 35-19 lead.
The North Reading running game was a bright spot for the game, as they gained 259 yards. McCarthy had 141 of those yards on just 11 carries. Dave Smith also had a great evening, as he ran for 91 yards on 12 carries.
Triton would tack on one more touchdown before the clock hit zero, with Boyle running it in from the North Reading nine yard line and the extra point was good to give them the 42-19 win.
The Hornets are now 2-4 and 0-3 in the Cape Ann League Kinney division. They will head up to West Newbury on Saturday, to face the also 2–4 Sachems of Pentucket Regional High School, who are also coming off a tough loss to Saugus, 42–28. The kickoff is at 1 p.m.