By Phil Stacey
---- — MARBLEHEAD — Ben Anderson shot the A gap and blocked the punt. Teammate Brooks Tyrrell fell on the bouncing football in the Salem end zone.
The momentum — and essentially the game — all went Marblehead’s way after that.
The host Magicians pitched their second shutout in three games this season and used a stout four-quarter effort to broom away the Witches, 42-0, at Sgt. Christopher Piper Field.
Marblehead (3-0) did so on a night in which one of the school’s greatest ever fans and supporters, William ‘Esso’ Haines, was posthumously remembered as the access road leading to the MHS Fieldhouse was renamed in his honor. Each of the Magician players is also wearing ‘Esso’ stickers on the back of their helmets this season.
“We needed to come out fast in the second half,” Marblehead coach Jim Rudloff said, alluding to the fact his team struggled after intermission a week ago in a win over Lynn Classical and didn’t want to make the same mistakes last night. “It’s great to see all the focus and adjustments we made during the week paid off.”
Salem (0-2) had trouble the entire night getting untracked offensively, accumulating just 79 yards of total offense. Still, they were in the game at halftime, trailing just 14-0. But after a quick 3-and-out to start the second half, the blocked punt against them proved lethal as Marblehead scored three times in the third quarter, opening up a 35-0 lead.
“High school sports are all about momentum, and to make a mistake like that against a good Marblehead team was a killer,” admitted head coach Scott Connolly. “It was a clean block.”
Tyrrell had a big night for the winners, rushing for 110 yards and a touchdown and recovering two Salem fumbles, including the punt block. Fellow running back Ben Anderson also had two touchdowns (on runs of 5 and 8 yards) while quarterback Matt Millett hit on his first eight passes of the night en route to finishing 11-of-14 for 148 yards, including a pretty 27-yard touchdown strike to Brian Daly in the left corner of the end zone. Millett also scored on a a 6-yard keeper.
“We were able to rotate a lot of guys looks and playing time tonight, rotating guys into the mix,” said Rudloff. “The penalties (8 for 70 yards) are getting ridiculous, but we’ll fix that. Overall, we’re happy.”
Marblehead dominated the line of scrimmage the entire night, getting great push into the Salem backfield and causing the visitors to gain negative yardage on 14 of their 47 offensive plays.
“They’re really big up front — that No. 79 (6-foot-5, 315-pound junior nose guard Derek Dumais) is so tough to move — and their linebackers, 52 (captain Liam Gillis) and 39 (Anderson) are great players behind them,” said Connolly.