By Jean DePlacido
---- — BOXFORD — After watching its defense star last time out, the Masconomet Regional football team’s offense was the star of last night’s 35-14 triumph over Saugus at Bunker Stadium.
The Chieftains capitalized on big plays to score on their first three possessions en route to winning their Cape Ann League Large opener.
Senior captain Mike Tivinis led Masconomet with four touchdown runs, gaining 156 yards on seven carries. He put his team on the board with a 25-yard run with only a minute gone in the game and later scored on runs of 65 2, and 24 yards.
“Tivvy is so strong and powerful he’s very tough to bring down,” said Masconomet (2-1) coach Jim Pugh. “He was hurt last year and only played in 2-3, but even then wasn’t at full strength. He deadlifts 500 pounds 10 times; that’s how strong he is. (Twin brothers) Mackenzie and Austin Cashin are also very tough runners to bring down.
“We set the tone in this game early with some big plays. (Quarterback) Troy Bunker made a great fake on a pass to Corey Tines, and once in the open field he’s the fastest kid around. This was a good win for us; I wish our defense had stepped it up, but this week it was the offense taking over.”
The pass from Bunker-to-Tines went for a 75-yard touchdown, and after Bunker kicked the extra point the Chieftains had a 14-0 lead in the opening quarter. Tines was able to get by the defense and was wide open. He caught the ball on the Saugus 40 and had an easy romp into the end zone.
A big defensive stand set up the next Tivinis touchdown, a 65-yard run behind a great block by Tines. At halftime the Chieftains were in control, 20-0.
“I had some huge holes to run through tonight,” said Tivinis. “It all starts with center Steve O’Reilly, who made some real good blocks. Our guards, Willy Lawrence and Louis Saladino, and tackles Ben Rosenbaum and Kevin Zegel, all get big props for opening up the holes. Mackenzie Cashin had the best block of the year on one of my touchdowns.”
That block by Cashin came in the final seconds of the third quarter, allowing Tivinis to score from 2 yards out and increasing Masco’s lead to 28-14. (Saugus had rallied to make it a 20-14 game by scoring two touchdowns in 50 seconds after controlling the ball for over eight minutes).
After Sachems’ quarterback Justin Winn’s 12-yard touchdown pass to Dan Cacciola, Saugus tried an onsides kick and recovered it near midfield. Seth Roy broke loose for a 44-yard touchdown run, and after adding the two-point conversion Masco’s lead had been cut to six points.
“Our offense bailed us out after the defense had that letdown in the third quarter,” said Pugh. “When you play an option team like Saugus everyone has to stick to their assignments, but our guys were not doing what they were supposed to. After they recovered that onsides kick we were back on our heels.”
The defense did come up big, however, in stopping Saugus on fourth down three times. The Sachems went for it on fourth down at their own 25 trying to make something happen in the fourth quarter, but the Chieftains’ Kyle Taggart tackled Winn for a loss, and on the next play Tivinis broke loose again for his fourth TD of the night to wrap things up.
A late Saugus trip to the red zone ended when Andrew Mastrangelo recovered a fumble at his own 20-yard line.
The Chieftains travel to North Reading next Friday.