GLOUCESTER — With rain pouring down and winds whipping off of Gloucester Harbor onto Newell Stadium Friday night, the Beverly and Gloucester football teams were really limited in what they could do offensively.
As a result, their matchup came down to a battle in the trenches and which team was more physical up front, as neither team gained a single yard through the air.
That team ended up being the visiting Panthers.
Behind 165 yards and three touchdowns on the ground from senior captain Duncan Moreland and 96 yards rushing and a score from junior Joey Loreti, the Panthers left Cape Ann with a 28-0 win.
The victory, Beverly’s first in three weeks, improved its record to 3-2 on the season (1-2 in the Northeastern Conference Large).
Gloucester fell to 0-5 (0-2 NEC).
“We definitely had to rein in some of the things we could do (offensively) with the weather,” said Beverly head coach Andrew Morency, whose team used Moreland, normally their top wideout, in the backfield for a second straight week as No. 1 tailback Marje Mulumba (injured) remained out of the lineup.
“It was a physical game and came down to our defense and run game, and they were able to get it done,” added Morency.
“That combination of Duncan and Loreti was really nice tonight.”
While the Beverly offense chewed up big yards on the ground, its defense ruled the day as it held Gloucester — which has now been shut out in four straight games — to just 74 yards of offense, including a mere 26 in the first half.
The Fishermen’s lone sustained drive came in the third and fourth quarter when it went 46 yards over 16 plays, covering 10 minutes and 38 seconds ... only to turn it over on downs at the 20.
“We were more physical tonight,” first-year Gloucester head coach Dan O’Connor said. “Beverly is a big and tough team, and they showed it.”
After forcing a three-and-out on Gloucester’s opening drive, it took the Panthers only three plays to find the end zone as Moreland raced 18 yards to give them a 7-0 lead.
On the ensuing drive, Moreland was able to spot some more room on the ground and produced a 60-yard touchdown run, which came two plays after he converted a big fourth down conversion in his own territory.
The score gave the Panthers a 14-0 advantage, which they’d take into halftime.
“We saw the last few weeks that Gloucester has been tough on teams early on,” Morency said. “We really made it a point to get out to a good start.”
Beverly essentially put the game away with its opening drive of the third quarter, which ended with a 57-yard touchdown run by Loretti. The shifty back broke multiple tackles just past the line of scrimmage and outran the Gloucester defense for the score.
Moreland added his third touchdown of the night late in the third to make it 28-0.
“We hung in there, but their size was a lot for us,” O’Connor said of the Panthers.
Beverly returns home next Saturday at 1 p.m. against undefeated Danvers (5-0) at Hurd Stadium.