, Salem, MA


November 28, 2012

Matt Jenkins column: Pierce's defensive play altered game's path

On Football

Matt Jenkins

BURLINGTON — Momentum is a snowball resting at the top of a hill.

All it takes is a little push for that snowball to begin its descent down, gathering size and speed along the way. For most high school football teams, those hills are bunny slopes. For Beverly, it’s a mountain with a pitch comparable to Everest.

Last night at Burlington High Varsity Field in a Division 2A playoff matchup, senior defensive back Kenny Pierce provided the push, and an avalanche ensued.

A critical one-on-one tackle in a fourth down situation by Pierce was quickly turned into points to help the Panthers pull away from Burlington in a 34-21 victory.

“That (tackle) was huge because we knew it would be a defensive game coming in here,” Beverly’s Brendan Flaherty said. “Whoever made the most stops was going to win the game because we both had great offenses. That play was huge and carried a lot of momentum. We really took advantage.”

For 20 minutes the game was a back-and-forth affair between two high-powered offenses. After Pierce had given Beverly a 19-14 lead early in the third quarter, Burlington embarked on a long drive that seemed destined to swing the pendulum back in its favor.

The Red Devils advanced to the Beverly 7-yard line, but on the 13th play they needed to pick up four yards on fourth down to keep the drive alive. Burlington coach Shawn Maguire called for a back-side screen with junior quarterback Shane Farley rolling out to his right, then throwing back to senior tight end Jarair Manoukian.

Pierce never bit on the fake. Instead, he charged forward and dropped Manoukian for a 3-yard loss.

“I was just sitting there and saw him go out,” Pierce said. “I just turned around and sprinted because I knew the quarterback was going to turn around and throw him the ball.”

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