By Dan Harrison
---- — NORTH READING — Some days you’re the hammer and some days you’re the nail.
On the road last night against North Reading, Hamilton-Wenham could have been a steel railroad spike and the Hornets still would have pounded the Generals down flat.
H-W allowed seven rushing touchdowns as North Reading put the final nail in the coffin of Generals’ playoff hopes with a 47-27 win in which the Hornets didn’t attempt a single pass.
It wasn’t for a lack of effort or even execution on the Generals part (4-4). Coach Andrew Morency’s team simply couldn’t match up on the line. It didn’t help when North Reading converted back-to-back onside kicks in the third quarter turning a six-point, halftime deficit into a 14 point lead before the Generals ran an offensive play in the second half.
“They got those two onside kicks and it seemed like an avalanche, but that’s what can happen against a good football team,” said Morency, whose Generals will be officially eliminated from playoff contention if Lynnfield beats Georgetown today.
“We felt like we could move the ball, but defense wins titles and (wins games) especially in high school in November. Defensively, we didn’t make plays.”
Carl Lipani rushed for 247 yards and six touchdowns including four in the second half while Charles McCarthy added 136 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries. The only other ball carrier for the Hornets was quarterback Jackson Kellogg who had five rushes for five yards including two kneel-downs.
Kyle Craig was outstanding at middle linebacker for H-W and Pete Duval and Christian Ecker did their best but the North Reading line got too much of a push on too consistent of a basis.
“We are more young on defense than offense. Trev (Trevor Lyons) kind of makes up for our youth on offense but defensively we kind of got exposed today,” explained Morency. “But my hat’s off to North Reading. They are a good program, coach (Jeff Wall) does great job and Lipani is a helluva player.”
The game started with a bang for H-W as signal caller Trevor Lyons and junior wide out Christian Ecker connected throughout the first half.
The Generals took a 19-13 lead into the locker room after three touchdown passes from Lyons to Ecker which all came on the fade pass. Ecker hauled in touchdowns of 16, 35 and 16 yards all in the first half. On the first score, Ecker ripped the ball away from Evan Wade.
Wade suffered an injury on the ensuing kickoff and went H-W got the ball back the Generals went right after his replacement.
North Reading adjusted nicely putting Scott McDonough on Ecker in the second half and though it stopped the fade pass, Ecker did add his fourth receiving touchdown of the day on a 14-yard slant to make it 40-27 in the fourth quarter. Ecker appeared to fumble as he crossed the plane but officials ruled he was already into the end zone when the ball came out.
“We said they were going to come out firing on all cylinders. We just told ‘em (Hornets’ players) to weather the storm, settle down and play football,” noted North Reading head coach Jeff Wall,his team 7-1. “We switched and put a different kid on him (Ecker) and we hoped for the best really, that was a bout it. We did a lot of praying.”
North Reading hopes it will have similar fortune on its side on Thanksgiving when the Hornets will travel to face Lynnfield for the NEC/CAL Tier Four title.