The game turned around completely in Beverly’s favor in the third quarter, where everything seemed to come together in perfect harmony: terrific blocking, both at the point of attack and downfield after the play had evolved; outstanding running by Flaherty, junior Isiah White (109 yards on 4 carries) and captain Kenny Pierce (50 yards on 5 carries, including a TD); and a lockdown effort by the entire defense, especially when Burlington had to convert but the Panthers wouldn’t let them.
Oddly enough, it all began with a punt return.
Foreshadowing their penchant for making big plays in the second half, Beverly forced a 3-and-out on the opening drive of the second half after a long Burlington kickoff return. The ensuing punt was caught by Flaherty at his own 23-yard line, and he broke/escaped/slithered out of no less than eight potential tackles while electrifying the largely pro-Beverly crowd on his 44-yard return.
Setting up shop the Red Devils’ 33-yard line, the Panthers needed just two plays to take the lead for good as Pierce went to his right, cut back inside and scored from 28 yards out for a 19-14 lead.
Burlington (10-2) then marched the football downfield, using 13 plays and almost six minutes off the clock before they faced 4th-and-4 from the Beverly 7. Quarterback Shane Farley hit Jirair Manoukian with a swing pass in the left flat, but Pierce came up from his spot at cornerback and drilled him for a 3-yard loss.
Wasting no time, White promptly ran for 22 yards to the Burlington 32, followed by a Flaherty inside handoff that went for 47 yards down to the Red Devils’ 4-yard line before the 6-foot-1, 185-pound captain took it in himself from 4 yards out. Flaherty’s third touchdown of the night, plus the ensuing Dave Rollins-to-Brendan McGee 2-point pass, gave the Panthers a 27-14 lead.