By Dan Harrison
---- — BEVERLY — Big plays from its running backs, a mammoth performance from its offensive line and the magic the Beverly High football team seemingly always has playing under their temporary home lights all worked in its favor last night.
Playing its once-a-year night game at Hurd Stadium, the Panthers rolled to their first victory of the season, a 48-28 triumph over North Andover.
Senior captain Isaiah White (313 yards rushing on 17 carries, believed to be a Beverly High record for one game) and sophomore Peter Mulumba combined for 515 yards rushing and four touchdowns as Beverly rushed for 325 yards in the first half alone, racing out to a 35-14 halftime lead. The Panthers’ hurry up offense out of the Wing-T caused major problems for North Andover (0-2).
“One of the things is that our rhythm has been off and we’ve made critical errors,” said Beverly coach Dan Bauer, whose team lost its first two games by a combined seven points. “(Last night) we stayed in rhythm and had fewer mistakes.
“Our offensive line held their own against a very big North Andover defensive line. They made it happen up front and our backs took care of the rest. We made the most of our opportunities.”
The Panthers forced three fumbles and three interceptions — including one by senior Sam Mulumba, who took it 92 yards to the house —to give Beverly its first lead in the second quarter, much to the delight of the packed house on hand.
North Andover quarterback Casey Walsh scored a 64-yard rushing touchdown on the first offensive play of the game, but Beverly answered right back after White produced an 87-yard touchdown run.
The Scarlet Knights had five first half turnovers.
“It’s impossible,” said North Andover head coach John Rafftery, referring to trying to come back after those multiple miscues. “Turnovers are turnovers and it showed our lack of concentration on the job at hand. You have to hand it to Beverly; they got the job done.”
White added two other second half rushing scores of 6 and 80 yards, respectively, while sophomore Matt Madden made the most of his touches, reaching paydirt twice in the first half when he gained 63 yards on eight carries.
Pete Mulumba (14 carries, 202 yards) broke a pair of long runs on quick handoffs up the middle, including 76-yard scamper in the second quarter to give Beverly a three-touchdown lead.
Defensively for the Panthers, senior captain Sean Winston had an interception and fumble recovery while Nicholas Donovan also picked off Walsh in the first quarter.
“We didn’t start well, but we showed great confidence, settled into the game and held our own,” noted Bauer, whose team begins Northeastern Conference North play next Friday night at Gloucester (7 p.m.). “The kids were focused, but we have a lot to clean up.”