By Phil Stacey Sports editor
The Salem News
---- — BYFIELD — Attitude and control.
The Danvers High football team had both Saturday morning, particularly in the second half as it used a dogged ground game and a fine defensive effort to put the clamps down on host Triton, 26-13.
“The attitude was great all game,” said captain Alex Grant, who ran for a career-high 128 yards and scored two touchdowns. “Every play, it was like, ‘Let’s go!’”
And go the Falcons (3-3) did, running for 303 yards as a team while controlling the football over the final two quarters of play. They ran 18 plays in the third quarter alone and ate up huge chunks of clock overall to keep the Vikings’ offense on the sidelines.
Danvers also saw its defense play a major role in its first victory since Week 2. Jake Allain recovered a fumble off a Triton kick return that proved huge, setting up the Falcons’ third touchdown early in the third quarter.
Anthony Cordoba had perhaps the biggest play of the game for the visitors, stuffing Triton quarterback Brad Whitman on 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line early in the second quarter when the game was tied at 7-7.
In addition, Justin Woodbury, Andy Curtin, Duncan D’Hemecourt and captain Jake Cawlina all had interceptions for the Falcons, while Mike Favreau and Woodbury — a converted QB who is now “relishing” his role playing defensive line, according to Rogers — both recorded sacks.
“We played a lot more physical in the second half,” Danvers head coach Sean Rogers said, “and we got a great job from our defense. We hit hard and got behind our pads.”
Symbolic of the Falcons’ defensive performance was the way they dug in after Triton took the opening kickoff and moved downfield with relative ease, scoring when Justin Spillane (128 yards on 19 carries) took it in from five yards out on a sweep. Thanks to Cordoba, the visitors held on 4th down the next time the Vikings had the football, and from there the only time the Blue-and-White allowed points came in the final minute of play, when the result had already been decided.
“We didn’t panic. We gave up that first drive, but buckled down from there,” Rogers said. “Our guys relied on each other to do their own jobs and executed their assignments.”
Danvers answered Triton’s early touchdown by scoring on their own first drive of the day, a 10-play, 68-yard drive capped off by a Grant 3-yard run over right tackle. The Falcons then took the opening drive of the second half and, thanks to a 45-yard run by John Thomas on a sweep left, punched it back into the end zone quickly as Alex Valles went off tackle from a yard out.
When Allain recovered a fumble for his team on the ensuing kickoff, Danvers quickly went back to work and needed five plays to add to their lead. This time, Grant powered his way over the goal line from two yards out.
“We kept their offense off the field at first,” said Triton (1-5) head coach Pat Sheehan, “but they really controlled the ball in the second half. Even when we had them stopped, it seemed like they were still getting yards.
“That fumble really hurt; it took us out of what we wanted to do, which was keep the ball out of their hands. It forced our hand (to throw more).”
Danvers put the hammer down for good in the fourth quarter when quarterback Nick Andreas (6 for 10, 56 yards) took it himself around the right end for a 10-yard touchdown.
“Nick did a nice job taking what the defense was giving him and making it work,” Rogers said. “He showed smart field management.”
Danvers begins league play on Saturday, traveling to Hurd Stadium to face the undefeated Beverly Panthers (2 p.m.).