By Matt Williams Staff writer
The Salem News
---- — SWAMPSCOTT — Falling behind by two scores early in the game wasn’t enough to shake the confidence of the Swampscott High football team — or its rapidly maturing quarterback, Brian Santry.
The senior captain threw for 242 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for another as the Big Blue came from behind to beat Malden, 27-19, at Blocksidge Field on Saturday.
It was the second straight win for Swampscott (3-3).
Immediately after Malden took a 19-6 lead, Santry directed a scoring drive highlighted by a 24-yard completion to Josh Rothwell on 3rd-and-22 and capped by the QB’s own 2-yard TD run. Swampscott’s defense then forced a 3-and-out, and Santry directed a 90-yard drive in under two minutes, finishing with a 14-yard scoring strike to Rothwell to give the Big Blue a 20-19 halftime lead.
“Brian carried us in that second quarter. He sparked the team,” said Swampscott head coach Steve Dembowski. “Our wideouts, Alex Powell in particular, made some good catches with defenders draped all over them.”
Swampscott’s defense, which had give up a 65-yard touchdown run to Malden’s Ryan Sainristil and a 55-yard TD pass from Jake Martino to Jean Sylvain in the first half, limited big plays after halftime. Sainristil wound up with 148 yards rushing and Martino threw for 171, but Swampscott turned the Tornadoes over on downs three times.
“We made some mental mistakes in the first half (defensively), and it’s a credit to our coaches for correcting those,” Santry said. “We (bore) down and tried to shut them down. This is the first time we’ve had a shutout in the second half this season.”
Aidan Brawley had two sacks and a tackle-for-loss coming off the edge, and helped derail a lengthy Malden drive after halftime. The Tornadoes started at their own 10-yard line, ran 15 plays and consumed 8:00 before turning it over on downs.
Later, the Big Blue then pounced on a botched punt to get the ball at the Malden 15-yard line. After a sack, Santry hit Aaron Cronin with an 18-yard touchdown pass on fourth down with 3:49 to play. Brawley’s third PAT stretched the lead to 27-19.
It was the second touchdown catch of the day for Cronin, who broke three tackles on his way to a 74-yard TD catch in the first quarter. All together, Cronin had four grabs for 87 yards and rushed 12 times for 74 yards for a total of 161.
“Game by game we’re gaining more confidence, and it was good to see the guys come together and pull this one out,” said Santry, who has thrown for 1,165 yards this fall.
Malden (1-5) got two possessions after Swampscott’s final score, but the Big Blue’s defense didn’t allow them to move into scoring range. Brawley boomed a nice punt with 34 seconds left to pin the Tornadoes at their own 19-yard line. The junior couldn’t get a punt off at his own 15 in the first, giving Malden short field for its first score.
“We didn’t put our defense in bad field position in the second half, and that allowed them to give up some first downs but still get us the ball back,” Dembowski said. “We’re making progress defensively, but there’s still so much progress to be made.”
Cronin was Santry’s leading receiver, followed by Rothwell (four grabs, 62 yards) and Powell (five grabs, 56 yards). Ben Faulkner added two catches for 35 yards.
All together, the teams combined for 715 yards of offense. Malden had 371 total yards to Swampscott’s 344.