By Matt Williams
---- — REVERE — For Peabody, the picture of games at Harry Della Russo Stadium the last 10 years has been ugly.
For Revere, last night’s game was the most beautiful Portrait of the season.
The host Patriots moved senior Tommy Portrait to quarterback and reaped major rewards, as he hooked up with Kaleb Silva for two first half touchdowns to lead Revere to its first win of the season, 23-13, over the flummoxed visitors from Tanner Town.
“We put in a new offense last Sunday,” said Revere Lou Cicatelli, who has led the Patriots (1-5) to wins over Peabody in six of the last seven meetings. “Tommy was one of the best running backs in our division last year, and we couldn’t get him going. We decided to spread it out with a different look and it paid dividends.
“It was good to get the monkey off my back. That thing was getting big. It was suffocating me.”
Revere scored on all three of its first-half possessions to take a commanding 17-0 lead over a Peabody team that was hoping to climb back to .500 but instead dipped to 2-4. The Tanners were playing the run against Portrait (game-high 85 yards on 20 carries), and he made them pay by throwing darts to Silva.
Portrait completed 6-of-10 passes for 100 yards, and helped his team keep drives alive by concerted on 4-of-5 third downs in that dominant first half.
“That was not what we expected,” said Peabody coach Mark Bettencourt. “Give Portrait credit. He threw the ball on the money.”
Peabody couldn’t get anything going offensively in the first half, managing just 38 net yards. Revere rushed up the middle to stuff the run and pressure QB Michael Raymond with great success.
“They have very good tight ends and a good QB, and we wanted to take the short passes away from them,” said Cicatelli. “We got great push up the middle. Our outside linebackers, Norton and Silva, had a ton of tackles. It was a great defensive effort.”
Linebacker Billy Teehan had a pair of sacks for Peabody and Ethan Mercedes had one as the visitors held Revere off the board to open the second half. The Patriots ate up 8:20 of the third quarter on the 13-play drive, however.
“They took so much time off the clock. It seemed like they were eating 30 seconds or more every play,” said Bettencourt.
Raymond hooked up with Andrew McLaughlin for a 44-yard touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter as Peabody made it 17-7. The Tanner defense forced a three-and-out, but Peabody couldn’t move the ball and had to punt. Teehan recovered when Revere muffed it, though, and Peabody was back in business with 5:00 to go.
After Raymond hit Teehan on fourth down to keep the drive alive, Cody Wlasuk rumbled into the end zone from 5-yards out with 3:34 left to get Peabody close at 17-13.
The Tanners didn’t recover the onsides kick, and Silva scored his third TD of the game with 1:51 left to ice it.
“We fought. We fought back from 14-0 down in the Danvers game and we knew we’d fight today,” said Bettencourt. “The first half killed us. We won’t beat anybody if we play like that.”
The loss should end any outside hope Peabody had of qualifying for the Division 1 North playoffs, while Revere is suddenly alive in Division 3 Northeast.
“The kids are on the MIAA Web site, they’re on top of that stuff,” said Cicatelli. “One thing that’s always been true with us is there’s no quit. It doesn’t matter if we’re 0-5 or 0-7, these kids will never lay down.”
The Tanners, who lost sophomore two-way starter Doug Santos to an injury in the first half, turn their attention to Salem (1-5).
“That rivalry dates back to my grandfather. There’s something on the line when Peabody plays Salem, so we have to get geared up and fix what’s wrong,” said Bettencourt. “We’re teaching them how to win, not just games but the little battles. We have to win quarters and then series.”