By Matt Williams
---- — LYNN —Twice during the first series last night at Manning Field, Lynn Classical defenders put good, loud hits on Peabody High ballcarriers.
The Rams were letting the Tanners know they were in for a long night.
Host Classical was physically superior on both sides of the ball and handed Peabody a 40-0 loss by opening big holes for their own running game and blowing up those the Tanners tried to open.
Brad Scuzzarella led the Rams (2-2) with 100 yards and three TDs as Classical racked up 270 rushing yards. The Tanners (1-3) were held to 66 net yards on the ground.
“They were better than we thought,” said Peabody head coach Mark Bettencourt, whose team suffered its biggest loss of the young 2013 season. Peabody hadn’t trailed by three scores in any game this year after trailing by that much in every game a year ago.
“I use analogies I’m familiar with. I can remember a lot of state tournament baseball games (where) I’ve lost to teams we might have underestimated. That analogy made sense to a lot of our guys. Classical was better than us today — and we’ll live to fight another day.”
Peabody trailed by just two scores late in the second quarter when they turned it over on downs in Classical territory. An untimely offsides penalty with 49 seconds left in the half gave the Rams a first down just over midfield, and they finished the drive with Scuzzarella scoring from three yards out with 14 seconds left in the half.
“If we were going to make a stand, we had to go into the half down 14-7,” said Bettencourt. “Being down 22-0, I wouldn’t say the wheels came off ... but our confidence took a major hit.”
The Rams then rattled off three touchdowns early in the third quarter, with one of those made easy by a bad punt snap that gave them the ball at the Peabody 5-yard line.
All together, Classical scored 26 points in 8:17 of game time between the second and third quarters to turn a relatively close two-score game into a one-sided affair.
Classical’s tight, double-wing offense is an oiled machine. Peabody thought they were prepared to stop it, but the Rams’ speed on the offensive line made sure that Tanner defenders in the right spots were still blocked.
“Their offense is bread and butter. They run it with such precision, you’re either going to figure it out or you’re not,” said Bettencourt. “Obviously, we weren’t able to.”
Rams’ QB Jordan Brown also killed the visitors, rushing for 48 yards on just three carries and throwing a 49-yard TD pass early in the third to Romario Louden.
“Give them credit; they showed us some things we didn’t see on film,” Bettencourt said. “They blocked the ends we had on the quarterback, and our backup plan wasn’t there because they had other responsibilities. They threw some wrinkles at us.”
Peabody quarterback Mike Raymond threw for 121 yards and completed all six of his passes in the first half. Sophomore Doug Santos ran for 23 yards on six carries and Cody Wlasuk rushed for 15 on five jaunts, but all together Peabody wasn’t able to mount sustained drives.
Raymond hooked up with Jabari Clarke twice for 58 yards, completed one pass to Billy Teehan for 29 and hit Tanner Moquin three times. The biggest miscues for Peabody offensively were their failure to convert on 4th down late in the half and a pair of turnovers in the second half.
“We’re not finishing drives and that’s becoming something we have to deal with as a coaching staff,” said Bettencourt. “We have some work to do.”
Devon Crayton also had a rushing TD for Classical. Peabody youngsters Cam Cordano (23 yards) and Ugonna Okanawa (20 yards) ran well in the fourth quarter.