SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Sports

November 28, 2012

Back to the Bowl: Beverly gets by Burlington

Flaherty (251 yards, 4 TDs) is brilliant as Panthers advance to second Super Bowl in 3 years

BURLINGTON — Sheer dominance.

There’s a reason why the Beverly High football team is 12-0 for the first time in school history and will be playing for its second Super Bowl championship in three seasons Saturday afternoon: when the stakes are at their highest, the Panthers simply rise above all challengers and crush the competition.

Trailing by a point at halftime, the Orange-and-Black completely dictated the final 20 minutes of play in last night’s Division 2A playoff semifinal against host Burlington High. They were ferocious in owning the trenches up front and got a monster 251-yard, 4-touchdown rushing performance from senior captain Brendan Flaherty to prevail, 34-21, in a swirling snow before more than 4,000 fans.

“Nothing changed for us at halftime; we were sticking to our game plan. We just wanted to pull away from them in the second half,” said Flaherty, who singed the Red Devils by running the trap and belly plays to perfection. His 251 yards — giving him 1,321 on the season — came on just 13 carries. He also was involved in nearly a dozen tackles from his post at free safety. “We stepped it up and fought through that (first half) adversity.

“This feeling is so great for all the work we’ve done all season to get to this point. For us seniors, it’s especially sweet.”

The Panthers will look to make history Saturday afternoon when they meet Natick — a 38-33 winner over Plymouth South in last night’s other sectional semifinal — for the Division 2A Super Bowl crown Saturday at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. No Beverly High team, dating back to 1891, has ever won this many games in a season, let alone finish 13-0.

“The seniors weren’t ready to pack it up tonight,” said Beverly captain Marc Babcock, who anchored the offensive line at left guard. “It was man-up time — and we manned up big time.”

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