By Matt Jenkins
---- — MARBLEHEAD — Many of the fans at Piper Field last night might have had a hard time verbalizing what they had just witnessed.
Marblehead High football coach Jim Rudloff could not be counted among that group.
Rudloff’s Magicians somehow found a way to hold off Gloucester, 35-33, but not before coughing up a three-touchdown lead in the second half.
“We were physically beaten down,” Rudloff said. “We really thought at the end of the (first) half that we were going to wear them down in the second half — and really, just the opposite happened. We made multiple mistakes because our kids were tired.
“I think we had a poor attitude in the second half, we got selfish on offense in the second half and we did a very bad job of calling the game in the second half.”
Marblehead scored three times in the second quarter and added the first touchdown of the second half for a 28-7 advantage. Up to that point Gloucester had managed only 54 yards of offense.
The Fishermen refused to quit, however, and jumped on the back of workhorse fullback Jordan Pallazola. He ended up carrying the ball 30 times for 225 yards and three second-half touchdowns.
Gloucester (3-2) quickly turned a defensive stop into points when Pallazola broke a 73-yard run that set up his second touchdown, then added more points after recovering a Marblehead fumble.
The Fishermen also stopped Marblehead on a 4th-and-goal from the 6-yard line late in the game, but they didn’t have enough offense (or timeouts) remaining to move the ball 94 yards with only a little more than a minute left.
“We’re a team that fights. We fight right to the end,” Gloucester head coach Tony Zerilli said. “We basically manned up (in the second half) and told our running backs that they had to block in the running game, and we let the fullback carry. We had to block better and that’s what we did in the second half; nothing special.”
Rudloff may not have been pleased with the overall performance, but Magicians’ junior Brooks Tyrrell was just as much of a workhorse as Pallazola was for Gloucester. Tyrrell carried the ball 31 times for 255 yards and three touchdowns.
Tyrrell, who now has 889 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns this fall, has rushed for over 100 yards in each of his team’s first five games, the only North Shore player who can make that claim.
The Magicians also came up with a huge 69-yard touchdown pass from Matt Millett to Dylan Cressy on a 3rd-and-11. That TD proved to be the winning points.
“It was gigantic, but it never should have come to that. It never should have in a million years come to 35-33. These guys feast off turnovers and we gave them two turnovers. We talked about it all week long and it was something that I don’t think our backs took seriously,” Rudloff said.
“I think we got very big heads after beating Swampscott and fortunately, we got our big heads beaten in tonight. I think that’s going to be good for us in the long run.”
Millett ended up completing 12-of-24 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns, but Marblehead’s long run may include another encounter with Gloucester.
“I think Gloucester is a great team and they took advantage of every single mistake that we made,” Rudloff said. “As their coaches have said, they hope to see us again in the playoffs. I hope we don’t for our sake.”