By Dan Harrison
---- — MELROSE — The Masconomet Regional football team couldn’t shake its first game jitters on the road last night.
Bad snaps, turnovers and a poor showing from the defensive front-seven plagued the Chieftains while host Melrose capitalized, dispatching the visitors 28-14.
“We were bad. We played like it was the first game. We were tentative, we turned the ball over and we never made up for it,” said Masconomet head coach Jim Pugh.
“We hurt ourselves and that’s the bottom line. But we’ll be back. It’s a long season.”
The Chieftains actually struck first, scoring early in the second quarter when senior signal caller Troy Bunker executed a nice play-fake, hid the ball, and found a streaking Corey Tines deep down the middle of the field for a 78-yard touchdown strike.
However, a bad snap cost Masconomet the extra point and Melrose proceeded to score three touchdowns before the end of the half, including a 1-yard rush from quarterback Malik Garrett with just 8/10ths of a second left in the half.
On the drive after Mascojnomet’s first score, Garrett threw a quick swing pass to Jack Hickey for a 24-yard touchdown. Then, another botched snap for the Chieftains resulted in a turnover and led to a 10-yard touchdown run by the Red Raiders’ Eric Mercer. Garrett would add another 1-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter to make it 28 straight points for Melrose.
Masco surrendered 177 rushing yards to Garrett, Hickey, Mercer and Mike DiRaffaele on 29 carries while the Chieftains committed four turnovers, including three interceptions. Bunker was picked off in the final minute of the first half on a screen pass where his intended target, Mackenzie Cashin, had fallen down. Bunker was also picked off on the Chieftains’ final drive to seal the game for Melrose.
The one guy who really stood out for the Chieftains was Tines. The junior wideout scored his second touchdown in the fourth quarter when Bunker faked a handoff inside and handed to Tines’ who came in motion as a receiver. Tines got a couple nice blocks, broke a few tackles and danced along the sideline for a 70-yard touchdown run.
“Corey made some big plays for us,” noted Pugh. “Staying in bounds on that long touchdown run was one of the top plays I’ve seen from one of my guys.”
Tines also happened to be the best player on the other side of the ball too, breaking up all three passes that came his way — including two that came on third down and stopped Melrose drives.