Tanners explode in second half to beat Wakefield, 32-3

WOBURN’s Isaiah Cashwell-Doe (10) was difficult to bring down all night, but Wakefield’s Andrew Miller and Danny Marinaccio (33) tackle him during the first half of Woburn’s victory on Friday.(Donna Larsson Photo)

Published in the October 16, 2017 edition.


WOBURN — It was a similar story for the 2017 WMHS football team on Friday in Woburn. The Warriors played the Tanners tough in the first half as Wakefield trailed 6-0, but Woburn came out of the locker room with a different type of energy that Wakefield couldn’t match, and outscored the Warriors 26-3 in the final two quarters.

The Tanners entered this game with plenty of confidence after their comeback victory over the tough Reading Rockets the week before. Couple that with the fact that this was Woburn’s first home game of the season and you get a hostile environment for the Warriors, who responded well in the first quarter.

Wakefield’s offense got the ball first as their line did well to set the tone for the running game. Starting at their own 33 yard line, the Warriors picked up two first downs highlighted by 14 yards on two carries from senior co-captain Ryan Fitzpatrick, and some physical running from senior Bobby Young. The Warriors made it to Woburn’s 33, forcing the Tanners to call a timeout, which proved to be a good call, as Wakefield stalled on the following series, including a big sack on 3rd and nine, before turning the ball over on downs at the 34. The Warriors defense then forced a three-and-out on Woburn’s first drive. It looked like Woburn’s defense would do the same as Wakefield lined up to punt after three downs, but the Warriors faked it and handed it off to senior Henry Stikeman who tore down the sideline for 25 yards, down to the Woburn 27 yard line. Woburn’s speed on defense showed itself for the first time on the next play as they prevented Fitzpatrick from getting to the sideline and brought him down for a three-yard loss. Wakefield couldn’t get back on track during the drive, and turned the ball over on downs once again as the first quarter came to an end

“We had opportunities that we didn’t cash in on in the first half,” said Wakefield head coach Steve Cummings. “They started pushing the tempo a little bit and we couldn’t answer it.”

That tempo started at the beginning of the second quarter as the Tanners began to throw their running back one-two punch of seniors Eri Ibrahimi and Isaiah Cashwell-Doe. Ibrahimi’s 14-yard run plus a 10-yard horsecollar penalty on the Warriors put the Tanners’ offense in Wakefield territory for the first time. Cashwell-Doe ran it 15 yards to the 14-yard line, then followed that up with a dash to the end zone that seemed to result in a touchdown, but Cashwell-Doe lost the ball before he crossed the goal line, and fumbled it out of the end zone for a touchback; a stroke of luck for the Warriors that kept the game scoreless.

After a Wakefield three-and-out, Woburn started their next drive with great field position. Ibrahimi kept the drive alive for the Tanners with a six-yard carry on 4th and four to get the ball to the 20. Cashwell-Doe flashed the talent that the Warriors could never gameplan for, as he switched fields and dashed 15 yards to the five. Wakefield was on their way to a goal line stand, forcing a another 4th down from the four, but Cashwell-Doe was able to punch it in for a touchdown. The two-point conversion was no good, but the Tanners took a 6-0 lead into halftime.

The second half was a different game all together, as the Tanners scored a touchdown and kept the clock moving on all four of their possessions. Junior quarterback Ryan Qualey found senior Ryan Getherall in the end zone for a 20-yard strike to make it 12-0. Woburn then put together another long drive after a Wakefield three-and-out and Cashwell-Doe found the end zone on a two-yard run, making it 19-0 after an extra point.

Wakefield got the ball down to the 11 on the next drive, thanks mostly to a 42-yard pass from Mike Lucey (5/15, 59 yards, 1 Int) to Stikeman down the sideline. The drive stalled again, but freshman kicker Dan Hurley converted on a 21-yard field goal to make it 19-3. Hurley then put an onside kick “right where he was supposed to,” according to Cummings, but the Warriors couldn’t dig it out and Woburn made them pay on the very next play, as Cashwell-Doe rambled for a 57-yard touchdown. Cummings mentioned on Thursday that the senior running back would be tough to contain, and Cashwell-Doe was as good as advertised, finishing the day with 144 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries. He was excellent as a linebacker for the Tanners too, coming up with two second-half sacks.

In the end, it was another disappointing second-half effort from the Warriors.

“This is a spitting image of two weeks ago,” said Cummings referencing Wakefield’s loss to Stoneham when the Spartans outscored the Warriors 30-0 in the second half. “We must like to learn this lesson over and over again because we seem to do the same thing to ourselves.”

After a complete victory against Burlington last week, the Warriors will have to turn the page once again, starting in practice today. Coach Cummings pointed to the difference in practice weeks as the reason for the difference in results for the past two games.

“I thought we had two bad days of practice this week, and it shows up on Friday nights.”

Wakefield (2-4) will now get ready to host Watertown on Friday in a game that the Warriors are viewing as a must win. It will be just the second and final home game of the season for Wakefield as they finish up a four-game road trip with a 1-3 record. Putting all of that aside, the Warriors can still get to .500 in league play with a win over Watertown, and a spot in the playoffs is still there for the taking.

“It will be nice (to be home), but we have to put together four good days of practice before we even get there,” said Cummings. “We have one week to help ourselves out here. We have to win that game, whether it’s to improve our standing or solidify a spot in the playoffs.”