By Richard Slate
---- — LYNN — For a team looking for consistency, Beverly (3-3) showed how far they’ve come in a few short weeks with a 33-18 win over Lynn English (2-3) at Manning Field last night. With the Northeastern Conference victory, the Panthers reach .500 for the first time this season while also building their first win streak of the season.
The crazy part was that the Bulldogs actually led 10-6 at halftime before Beverly rattled off 27 straight points in the third and fourth quarter to put it out of reach.
“At 10-6, we felt like we were right there,” noted Panthers head coach Dan Bauer. “It was a huge possession to stop them (3 and out) and forcing them to punt to start the second half. We really brought it on defense.”
Senior running back Isaiah White carried Beverly to the victory with 22 carries for 122 yards and two touchdowns. What’s more, he also added a 12-yard touchdown catch and a 27-yard interception return for a touchdown. Sophomore running back Matt Madden completed the scoring with a 44-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
“You could point at so many guys, not just White,” said Bauer. “Zach Duguid, Nick Manthorne, Joe Kozlowski (1 interception) and Sam Mulumba. These are all experienced players from last season (in whcih Beverly won its second Super Bowl in 3 years).”
The offensive explosion by the Panthers was even more remarkable since they didn’t score in the first quarter. The Bulldogs opened the scoring with a 16-yard touchdown pass from Jordan Lark to Kyle O’Connor. Beverly answered right back with a 1-yard plunge by White but the Bulldogs blocked the PAT to hold onto the lead. Lynn English’s Chris Lessard showed off some serious leg to hit a 37-yard field goal on the last play of the first half.
Coming on the heels of Beverly’s 17-14 upset of Marblehead last weekend, the Panthers offense was able to wake up in a big way during the second half. The key was that their defense kept them in the game before White and the offensive line started to find their rhythm and plenty of creases.
“If you saw us earlier in the season, we made more mistakes,” explained Bauer. “We continue to mature and grow. We played pretty well overall against a high powered offense.”
A 12-yard touchdown throw from Manthorne to White that included a killer cut put the Panthers ahead for good at 13-10 on their first drive of the second half.
After another 3-and-out for Lynn English, White’s 5-yard touchdown run made it a two-score game (20-10). Beverly actually fumbled the play before that but recovered it, a good break that probably wouldn’t have happened to them in earlier frustrating losses to Danvers or Gloucester.
White’s pick-six was the the final blow for English’s fading hope of a comeback. It happened on the first play of the fourth quarter as White intercepted Lark in the middle of the field then used a bunch of a blockers to find the goalline. After Madden’s touchdown, the Bulldogs tacked on a 20-yard touchdown catch by O’Connor on their final drive.
Next week is the last game before the new-look MIAA playoffs start, Beverly hosts Swampscott on Saturday at Hurd Stadium. Picking up extra points by beating the higher division Bulldogs should help the Panthers possibly get a home playoff game in a few weeks.
“We were able to finish the game and fix our mistakes,” said Bauer. “We only had two or three penalties, it was much cleaner so that’s where we’ve seen the growth.”