BEVERLY — Like slices of delicious turkey piled high on a Thanksgiving plate, the records just kept piling up.
The Beverly High football team didn’t just defeat Salem in their 123rd annual meeting Thursday morning before an estimated 3,500 fans at Hurd Stadium; they did so in a way where even Will Hunting couldn’t accurately compute the numbers fast enough.
When the smoke finally settled, the Panthers had smashed all kinds of new holiday marks in a 60-28 destruction of the Witches.
In scoring the game’s first eight touchdowns — all in the first half before the contest was even 18 minutes old — the Orange-and-Black set records for most points in a Beverly/Salem game (60), most points in a quarter (33, in the first), most points in a half (60), and most yardage in one half (337).
The Panthers (5-6) and the visiting Witches (6-5) also combined for the most points combined (88) on the holiday in a rivalry that goes back to 1891 while also combining for 472 yards in the first half, another record.
“It was the seniors’ day today,” said first-year head coach Jeff Hutton. “They had a great week of practice, and it showed in how they played today.”
It was also the second-highest scoring affair in both programs’ histories: Beverly beat Peabody 55-35 earlier this season, while Salem lost a wild shootout to Danvers, 46-45, back in 2012.
Beverly has now won 16 of its last 19 meetings with Salem and leads the all-time series in ‘The Game’, 64-52-7. It is the first time in the series history that one team has held a 12-game advantage over the other.
Senior Andrew Schweizer started off the day with a bang for Beverly, returning the opening kickoff 94 yards for a score. He added a 5-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter to make it 33-0 for the hosts after 12 minutes.
“I was thinking, ‘Run full speed to the sideline, then if you see a gap sprint through it’,” said Schweizer of his kickoff return. “Once I got through that, I knew I was gone.”
In between, captain Jordan Irvine scored on a 4-yard run; fellow senior Andre Sullivan scored on a 71-yard tight power right play, and junior Matt Sopp — who picked off a pass that led to Irvine’s touchdown — scored one of his own after catching a 11-yard pass from quarterback Pierce Heim.
“I’ve been playing since the second grade,” said Sullivan, a halfback who finished the year with a team-best 1,050 yards rushing and a dozen scores on the ground, “so to beat Salem like this in my final game means a lot.”
The Panthers’ lead only continued to grow in the second quarter, even when they started putting backups in. Following a Walker Center interception, Heim (7-for-8 for 125 yards and finishing the year with 1,020) hit tight end Zack Sparkman with a 34-yard scoring toss. Sparkman then caused a Salem fumble that his team recovered and scored again, with Jeremiah DeJesus running it in from seven yards out. The Witches fumbled two plays into their next series and Sparkman again was there, returning the loose ball 22 yards to paydirt for a 53-0 lead.
Salem finally got on the board after a solid kick return led to quarterback Michael Ready’s 50-yard TD pass over the top to Corey Grimes, and a 2-point conversion catch by Radhlen Pena. But on its next play Beverly found the end zone for the eighth and final time as backup Devon Smalls took a jet sweep 45 yards to the house. That made it 60-8 with still 6:08 left until the break.
“At the end of the day, the challenge here is that Beverly’s a top 40 team and we’re, whatever, 190th in the state. There’s a gap there,” said Salem head coach Matt Bouchard. “For me, we saw moments where we can compete, but they’re a senior-laden team and we started only three seniors.”
Ready ran one in himself from nine yards out before the half ended for the visitors. Then, with running time in the second half, he connected on a pair of touchdown passes to sophomore Devante Ozuna (42 yards) and freshman two-way starter Quinn Rocco Ryan (15 yards). Ready finished the final game of his high school career with 209 passing yards.
“This is a good learning experience for our guys, though, because they need to know what good looks like,” added Bouchard. “With so many of our guys back, there’s a lot we can build upon.”
Beverly’s all-star guard and nose tackle, senior Grant Eastin, summed up what this season meant to the 19 BHS seniors.
“As much we hate to admit it, was a restructuring season for us. I feel like we were helping the underclassmen get back on track and help put Beverly back on the map, said Eastin, who had a thunderous first quarter sack. “Coach Hutton knows exactly what he’s doing; we have faith in him. He’s going to turn this program into something amazing.”
Beverly 60, Salem 28at Hurd Stadium, Beverly
Salem (6-5) 33 27 0 0 60
Beverly (5-6) 0 14 8 6 28
Scoring summaryB-Andrew Schweizer 94 kickoff return (rush failed)
B-Jordan Irvine 4 run (rush failed)
B-Andre Sullivan 71 run (Drew Fowler kick)
B-Matt Sopp 11 pass from Pierce Heim (Fowler kick)
B-Schweizer 5 run (Fowler kick)
B-Zach Sparkman 34 pass from Heim (Fowler kick)
B-Jeremiah DeJesus 7 run (Fowler kick)
B-Sparkman 22 fumble return (kick failed)
S-Corey Grimes 50 pass from Michael Ready (Radhlen Pena pass from Ready)
B-Devon Smalls 45 run (Fowler kick)
S-Reddy 9 run (pass failed)
S-Devante Ozuna 42 pass from Ready (Quinn Rocco Ryan pass from Ready)
S-Ryan 15 pass from Ready (pass failed)
Individual StatisticsRUSHING: Salem — Jariel DelValle 10-53, Michael Ready 4-7, Devonte Ozuna 1-(-5); Beverly — Andre Sullivan 2-86, Gabe Copeland 2-53, Andrew Scheweizer 4-43, Jeremiah DeJesus 4-35, Jordan Irvine 4-18, Marcelo Pinto 3-7, Robert Felix 1-4, Gino Sciari 1-2, Walker Center 3-1.
PASSING: Salem — Ready 13-22-209-3-3 Beverly — Pierce Heim 7-8-125-3-0; Troy Wetmore 1-2-(-1)-0-0.
RECEIVING: Salem — Corey Grimes 2-88, Quinn Rocco Ryan 6-56, Ozuna 2-48, DelValle 2-13, Radhlen Pena 1-4; Beverly — Sullivan 1-41, Zach Sparkman 1-34, Irvine 3-28, Matt Sopp 1-11, Schweizer 1-11, Center 1-(-1).
Contact Phil Stacey