By Matt Williams Staff writer
The Salem News
---- — BEVERLY — The name of the evening was “Light up Hurd Stadium 3.” But by the time the night was through, the Beverly High football team lit up both the scoreboard and the record book.
The host Panthers handled Peabody, 49-0, in the third night game ever at Hurd Stadium. Senior captain Brendan Flaherty scored twice— off a 20-yard run and 46-yard punt return — to become the program’s all-time leader in touchdowns.
The scores were the 46th and 47th of Flaherty’s three-year varsity career, moving him past Beverly’s all-time leading rusher, Pat Bailey, who scored 45 career TDs before graduating in the spring of 2007.
“I looked up to Pat when I was little and have so much respect for him,” said Flaherty. “This means a lot to me; it really says a lot about the great tradition of Beverly football.”
The Panthers (5-0 for the first time since 1993) celebrated captain Kenny Pierce’s birthday by sending him 21 yards untouched to paydirt to start the scoring in the first.
After the first of captain Dom Abate’s two interceptions, Flaherty took a counter up the middle for a 20-yard score to make it 14-0 and officially set the TD record.
Flaherty scored 21 TDs as a sophomore, 14 as a junior and has 12 so far this year. The versatile Flaherty has 29 rushing TDs, 12 receiving and six on defense or returns in his career.
The 6-foot-1, 180-pounder also had five career two-point conversions for 292 career points — also a new BHS record, ahead of Bailey’s 272.
“Brendan is a special player and Pat Bailey was a special player,” said Beverly head coach Dan Bauer, who also coached Bailey. “Brendan has worked as hard as anybody; its not a situation where he just shows up and it happens. He’s put in a ton of time and effort.”
Beverly’s defensive line was dominant last night, sacking Peabody quarterback Cody Wlasuk four times and holding the Tanners (0-5) to minus-8 yards of total offense at halftime. Defenders Kevin Kennedy, Mike Dooling, Pat Quieroz and Rob Cattell gave Peabody no illusion of running room.
The beneficiary was Beverly’s offense, which feasted on short fields. The Panthers enjoyed scoring drives of :28, :43; :18 and :22 seconds in the first half, with all four of those lasting three plays or fewer. The damage was done by Pierce, Flaherty, Abate (28-yard run), Joey Kozlowski (33-yard run) and Brandon McGee’s 31-yard TD reception from QB Nick Manthorne.
“They run their offensive so fluidly and so smoothly,” said Peabody head coach Scott Wlasuk. “They’re very precise with their technique and have a slew of running backs they can hit you with.”
Abate had two interceptions and linebacker Isiah White recovered a fumble as the Panthers turned three first half turnovers into three quick scores to lead 42-0 by halftime.
The Black-and-Orange, now 3-0 under portable lights at Hurd, were especially pleased with big plays by captain Abate, who had been limited by a September foot injury.
“Dom has worked hard, he’s given it all for us and its great to see him running around out there making plays,” said Bauer.
Beverly junior Sam Mulumba returned the opening kick of the second half 91 yards to the house for the game’s final score. Peabody drove down to the Beverly 4-yard line in the fourth quarter, but the Panthers’ reserve defense held on for the shutout.
Tanner Moquin led Peabody with 22 yards on four carries and two catches for eight yards. Fellow sophomore Michael Raymond completed 5-of-12 passes for 31 yards in relief of Cody Wlasuk, who injured a thumb in the second quarter.
“The kids didn’t quit and we need to use that to build,” said Scott Wlasuk. “I can’t say enough about Beverly; that’s a strong, veteran team with size, speed and athleticism.”
The Panthers used nine different ballcarriers, led by Flaherty (47 yards on three carries) and Pierce (42 yards on three jaunts). Harry Brown converted all seven of his PATs.
“Everybody’s healthy, the system is working great and the line is fantastic,” said Flaherty. “We’re all doing out jobs; its all about everyone doing their 1/11th.”