BEVERLY — After nearly a week of watching himself on film and what he did wrong the last time around, Sam Mulumba made sure his final performance at Hurd Stadium in a Beverly High football uniform would be an Oscar-worthy performance.
The senior linebacker/safety and wideout was all over the field Saturday afternoon, picking off one pass and creating a fumble off another, catching three passes for 44 yards and delivering eight bone-jarring tackles as his Panthers won their home finale, a 20-8 decision over rival Danvers.
“I looked at film from the last Danvers game (a 33-28 Beverly loss in Week 2) and watched all the mistakes I made,” said Mulumba. “Then I went out and worked on correcting them during practice. I didn’t want to lose to these guys again.”
Fellow senior Isaiah White also had a stellar outing; the captain ran for a game-high 186 yards and two scores and moved to within 30 yards of breaking Greg Pierce’s Beverly High record for most rushing yards in a single season (1,648).
“This game was like a mini-Super Bowl; it’s how we treated it all week,” said White.
The win guaranteed an eighth straight winning season for Beverly (6-4), with only its 115th meeting with Thanksgiving Day rival Salem remaining. Danvers, despite falling to 7-3 with the setback, can win eight games for the first time since 2005 with a victory at Gloucester on the holiday morning.
A dominant first half in which Beverly outgained the Falcons, 260-80, had three times the number of first downs (15 to 5) and held onto the football for twice as long (14:46 to 7:14) enabled the hosts to take a 14-0 lead into halftime.
After fumbling on the Danvers 1-yard line on the game’s opening drive, the Orange-and-Black got a 26-yard punt return from Christian Miller to give them excellent field position on the Falcons’ 35 to start their next possession. Five plays later White swept around right end from 19 yards out and a 6-0 lead.