By Matt Jenkins
---- — SWAMPSCOTT — For almost two full quarters Saturday, the Swampscott High football team’s defense confused Marblehead.
Swampscott entered the game allowing an average of 37 points per game while the visiting Magicians had scored 40-plus points in all three of its contests. But before halftime, Marblehead’s chances of duplicating that type of offensive output against the Big Blue was taking a backseat to simply finding a way to win.
“We were completely flummoxed about what to do for a quarter-and-a-half before we figured things out,” Marblehead coach Jim Rudloff said.
Aided by a late first-half score, Marblehead eventually did figure things out and rolled to a 35-7 victory over Swampscott at Blocksidge Field in the rivals’ first non-Thanksgiving showdown since 1909.
Swampscott dictated the tempo and physicality of the game early on and took a 7-0 lead when Brendan McDonald connected with Michael Faia on a 41-yard screen pass for a score.
Unbeaten Marblehead (4-0) seemed to be spinning its wheels in its first four possessions but started pounding it with the running game, then stretched the field with vertical throws.
“The biggest factor was conditioning; they were in better shape than we were,” Swampscott (1-3) coach Steve Dembowski said. “We didn’t play that bad defensively. They didn’t run a lot of schemes and we knew what they were running, but we just got worn out.”
Magicians quarterback Matt Millett hooked up with Brian Daly on a pair of touchdown passes in the second quarter. The first, a 29-yard post with 2:31 to play in the first half, was like a sigh of relief for the Magicians. The second, a 26-yarder that Daly got behind the defense on, was the punch to Swampscott’s gut.
The Big Blue turned the ball over on their side of the field to Marblehead after a failed fake punt attempt. The Magicians needed only six plays to capitalize as Daly’s second TD came with just three seconds left in the half.
“We just weren’t disciplined in our zones and that really killed us,” Dembowski said about the second touchdown.
Brooks Tyrrell finished with 181 yards rushing for Marblehead and scored on runs of 1 and 64 yards in the second half, and Matt Millett put the icing on the cake by hitting Will Millett for the final score. Garrett Keogh kicked five extra points for Marblehead.
McDonald threw for 171 yards despite taking a shot early in the game and playing through a hip pointer injury. The Marblehead defense did an excellent job bottling up Swampscott senior running back Desmond Wilhelmsen, who made his debut last week with 199 yards in a win over Winthrop.
“We were lucky that we were not the first team that he faced. It’s like Winthrop took a bullet for us,” Rudloff said. “It gave us as a coaching staff and our kids and opportunity to be scared. He played such a great game against Winthrop that our kids were entirely focused on making sure that we shut that down.”