“The line play was unbelievable, and the downfield blocking, once we were into that second level, was huge,” said Beverly coach Dan Bauer, whose team finished with 419 yards rushing on just 32 carries, a remarkable average of over 13 yards per carry. “And Brendan ... he played like a man possessed.”
Beverly wasn’t finished, either. After another 3-and-out by Burlington, the Panthers went 92 yards in seven plays, highlighted by a 61-yard scamper by White before Flaherty again hit paydirt, this time from 27 yards out and a 34-14 lead with 5:55 to play.
“We just didn’t tackle well,” said Burlington coach Shawn Maguire. “We were hitting (Flaherty) at the line, but not wrapping up. He’s a strong runner; you need to wrap him up and we didn’t.”
“We came out with one goal in mind in the second half: finish the job. I’d say we did that,” said senior lineman Brian Perry. “We’ve done that in the second half of a few close games this season, like against Winthrop and Masconomet, and this was no different. We came out with more heart and focus.”
And now, that heart and focus has the Panthers back where they hoped they’d be when practices officially began back in August: playing for a state championship at Gillette on December 1.
Division 2A playoff semifinals
Beverly 34, Burlington 21
at Varsity Field, Burlington High
Beverly (12-0) 7 6 14 7 — 34
Burlington (10-2) 7 7 0 7 — 21
Bev-Brendan Flaherty 38 run (Harry Brown kick)
Burl-Marcus Odiah 9 run (Christopher Arria kick)
Bev-Brendan Flaherty 2 run (kick blocked)
Burl-Anthony Cruz 3 run (Arria kick)
Bev-Kenny Pierce 28 run (rush failed)
Bev-Flaherty 4 run (Brendan McGee pass from Dave Rollins)
Bev-Flaherty 27 run (Brown kick)
Burl-Harrison Smoske 37 pass from Shane Farley (Arria kick)
RUSHING: Beverly — Brendan Flaherty 13-251, Isiah White 4-109, Kenny Pierce 5-50, Dave Rollins 3-5, Dom Abate 3-4; Burlington — Marcus Odiah 16-96, Anthony Cruz 19-66, Christopher Arria 4-18, Shane Farley 3-(-22).
PASSING: Beverly — Rollins 0-4-0-0-1; Burlington — Farley 9-13-94-1-0.
RECEIVING: Beverly — None; Burlington — Harrison Smoske 4-74, Odiah 1-17, Cruz 2-2, Jirair Manoukian 2-1.