By Matt Jenkins
---- — PEABODY — The absence of North Shore Tech/Essex Aggie running back Ross Murphy was most obvious on offense. His absence in the punting game proved to be more costly for the Bulldogs, however.
Murphy, who ran for nearly 1,000 yards a year ago, sat out last night’s game after getting injured in physical education class this week. North Shore struggled to move the ball on the ground against Bishop Fenwick, and the Bulldogs had an equally hard time moving it on punts with Murphy, the team’s long snapper, on the sideline.
The Crusaders took advantage of the field position and overpowered North Shore, 41-0.
“We got put in a hole yesterday afternoon (when Murphy got hurt). We had our backup (long snapper) going and that cost us big-time in the beginning,” North Shore Tech (1-2) coach Paul Worth said. “But realistically that’s a better football team than we are. They’re physically better, mentally tougher, they’re seasoned, they’re veterans and we’re just young and green everywhere.
“I thought my kids fought hard and that’s all I can ask them to do, but we weren’t going to beat this football team tonight.”
After stopping Fenwick deep in their own territory, the Bulldogs went three-and-out. A low snap turned into a disaster when Fenwick junior Aidan Moulton blocked the punt and fell on the ball in the end zone for an early Crusader lead.
Another low snap on North Shore’s next possession resulted in a short punt, setting Fenwick (2-0) up with a short field. Senior quarterback Nick Bona slipped through the line on second down and darted 56 yards for a score.
It seemed like deja vu on North Shore’s third possession. The Bulldogs went three-and-out and Tom Parsons blocked the punt for Fenwick. Moulton picked it up again and set Fenwick up at North Shore’s 21-yard line. Four plays later junior running back Rufus Rushins blasted through the line for a 3-yard touchdown run. Kyle Russell added the second of his five kicks and Fenwick led 20-0.
“That definitely put us in great position, but when you’re aggressive on defense you can help to force some of those things,” Fenwick coach Dave Woods said. “Our defense played great all night. When you play defense like that you’ll always be in the game no matter what your offense does.”
The Bulldogs did a good job slowing Fenwick’s offense, despite the final score. Bona’s 56-yard touchdown run and a 44-yard pass play from Bona to Eric Razney were the only big plays North Shore surrendered in the first half.
For the game, Rushins accumulated 83 yards on 15 carries and scored two short-yardage touchdowns. Bona managed 70 yards on six carries, also scoring twice, including a 1-yard score early in the fourth quarter. Robert Cardillo broke a 75-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter when Fenwick’s second offense was playing. He finished with a game-high 85 yards on three carries.
Fenwick’s defense was outstanding, holding North Shore to 100 yards.
Michael Nuernberg led the Bulldogs with 61 yards rushing and Matt Almon added 20.
“We don’t have the talented athletes that they do,” Worth said. “I’m proud of the kids for fighting, but they were the better team; there’s no question about it.”