By Jean DePlacido Correspondent
The Salem News
---- — LYNN — Each week the young Peabody football team shows improvement, and while they did some nice things against Lynn English big plays killed them in the 34-0 loss to the Bulldogs at Manning Field.
The Tanners fell to 0-8, but after the game interim coach Matt O’Brien told his players to keep their heads up. While the loss was disappointing, he saw some positive things.
“The effort was definitely there,” said O’Brien. “This was probably our best effort overall, and I saw more tackling out there than I have all year long. We had the right attitude all week long in practice, and were prepared. We had the guys in position to make plays. Unfortunately, they made a couple of big ones that were the difference in the game.”
Peabody’s opening drive started at it’s own 41 after a 25-yard return by Ryan Collins, but it stalled on fourth down at the Bulldogs’ 40. A couple of big defensive plays by the Tanners kept the game scoreless after the first quarter. The first was an interception by sophomore Franz Bain, and the second a terrific goal line stand. On English’s next possession they drove to the Peabody one-yard line where quarterback D. J. Mullen was hit hard and fumbled. Tyler O’Shea recovered in the end zone for the Tanners.
Lynn got on the board with 7:25 left in the first half on a 31-yard run by Isaiah Davis, who had 145 yards rushing on just eight carries. He was one of six English players, who did not start for disciplinary reasons. The Bulldogs had a 14-0 halftime lead after Alex Ortega returned a punt 90 yards, changing directions several times and avoiding tackles. Davis tacked on the two point conversion.
“We made that big goal line stand, but then gave up that long punt return,” said O’Brien. “That was a huge play for them and changed the momentum. Later they had a long run down the sideline that was another killer.”
The play O’Brien was referring to was an 81-yard touchdown run by Davis down the left sideline with 5:35 left in the third quarter. It came on the first play after the Bulldogs’ defense held the Tanners on fourth down at the Lynn 19-yard line when Mike Raymond’s pass to Angjellos Bido was short of a first down.
That opportunity came after Frank Lowry recovered a fumble on the exchange between quarterback Lucas Harris and Davis at the Lynn 27-yard line. Billy Teehan carried the ball twice, and then Raymond picked up a first down on the keeper at the English 16-yard line. But the drive stalled when Tanner Moquin was hit in the backfield for a loss, Raymond’s pass was incomplete, and then he was sacked to set up the fourth-and-long situation.
“They started blitzing, and we had a hard time picking it up,” said O’Brien. “I thought Raymond made some nice passes under pressure; it’s still a learning process for him. Bain is another young player (sophomore), who is coming along at cornerback. He’s learning and had that big interception. Cody Wlasuk was awesome on defense. He must have had 12 or 15 tackles tonight.”
Raymond completed 6 of 10 passes for 46 yards with one interception on a last second throw to the end zone as the first half ended. Collins was his favorite receiver (3-26), and Teehan had two catches for 15 yards. The Tanners had several punt or kickoff returns of 20 yards or more with Collins, Teehan, and Eric Sanford all doing a good job on returns.
“We’ve got a bye week now, and it comes at a good time because we really need a mental break,” said O’Brien. “It’s been a real grind the last few weeks. We’ve still got two big games remaining (Lynn Classical and Saugus on Thanksgiving). We’ll work hard to fix the things we need to and be ready.”