By Matt Williams
---- — LYNN – When a football team doesn’t punt and gains twice as many first downs as their opponent, they should be a good bet to score some points and win the game.
That postulate presumes that the team in question takes care of the football, however.
Swampscott didn’t do that last night at Manning Field, turning it over five times and failing to finish drives in a 27-14 loss to host Lynn English.
“It’s frustrating. This was a game we could’ve used, and our defense gave us a chance,” said Swampscott head coach Steve Dembowski. “We hurt ourselves. We continue to implode; that’s really the best word for it.”
Swampscott (1-4 for the first time since 2004) dominated possession, running 23 offensive plays to English’s six in the third quarter alone. The Big Blue didn’t cash in on those chances, though, with Zach Lozzi returning an interception 39 yards for six English points to put the visitors in a 20-0 hole.
Swampscott fumbled on their first two possessions, quarterback Brendan McDonald (141 yards, 2 TDs) was intercepted three times and the Big Blue turned it over on downs in English territory twice.
“We have to score in the red zone,” said Dembowski. “Every mistake we made compounded into more drives for English, a team that was better than us athletically. We knew we couldn’t run with them all night and we couldn’t give them extra chances.”
The Bulldogs certainly took advantage, scoring on big plays despite gaining seven first downs to Swampscott’s 17. QB Jordan Javier Lark hooked up with Chris Lessard for two scores, the second of which was a 68-yard catch-and-run that put a dagger in the Big Blue in the fourth quarter.
Lark (194 yards passing) also found Kyle O’Connor (5 catches, 82 yards plus a pick on defense) for a score in the first half.
McDonald hooked up with Christian Llorentine for a 4-yard TD after Lozzi’s interception return to get Swampscott back in the game at 20-7. The Big Blue had the ball twice with a chance to make it a one-possession game, but couldn’t punch it in.
“It starts with little things and grows into big problems. It’s like the leak in the dam that over time is going to burst,” Dembowski said.
Desmond Wilhelmsen ran for 128 yards to lead Swampscott and Jordan James rumbled for 31 when Wilhelmsen missed portions of the third quarter with an injury. Mike Faia also rushed for 24 yards.
“There were some positives in that our backs ran hard,” said Dembowski. “We have to finish drives and we have to execute better. It wasn’t crisp.”
Swamspcott scored with 50 seconds left on the clock when McDonald hooked up with Ryan Cresta from seven yards out. English recovered the ensuing onsides kick and knelt on the ball to end it.
The Big Blue now have a bye week and will look to get healthy and improve on both sides of the ball. They have an outside chance to make the playoffs, but they’ll need to win their next two games against the iron of the Northeastern Conference North division (Beverly and Gloucester).
“It’s a bye week we desperately need. We need to get better so that these mistakes don’t kill us,” said Dembowski. “Our only chance to get into the tournament is to win some games and hope that’s enough because we’re playing opponents in higher divisions.”