Carey, Redmen Run Over Concord-Carlisle, 23-13 In Season Opener
Sep 12, 2015 08:59PM
By Rick Spencer
Troy Carey (22) got plenty of blocking as he ran for over 100 yards and three touchdowns in leading TMHS to a 23-13 win over Concord-Carlisle.
With their top three running backs from a year ago now playing college football, and their starting quarterback and star wide receiver returning, the Tewksbury High football team figured to be a pass-first, run-second kind of team this fall.
Thankfully, nobody told Troy Carey about that.
After waiting his turn behind the likes of James Sullivan, Tom Casey and Jimmy Hirtle last year, Carey, a 5-9 senior tailback, took full advantage of his first crack at becoming Tewksbury’s featured ball carrier on Saturday, carrying the ball 25 times for 101 yards and three touchdowns as the Redmen opened their 2015 season with an impressive, 23-13 win over a highly regarded Concord Carlisle team at Doucette Field.
Carey scored all three of his touchdowns in the second quarter as Tewksbury overcame an early, 7-0 deficit and buried the visiting Patriots with 23 unanswered points in a stretch of eight minutes and 44 seconds.
“I knew I was going to be under a lot of pressure being the only senior in the backfield this year,” said Carey afterward. “But I put in the work in the offseason. Our line just stepped up today and opened the holes for me to run up into.”
“He's a special kind of kid in terms of his effort,” said TMHS head coach Brian Aylward of Carey. “He gives you everything he has. It doesn’t matter if he's not as big as some of these other players, he's gonna give you that effort every time. He was a work horse for us today.”
After moving the ball seemingly at will in the first half, the Tewksbury offense bogged down over the final two quarters after senior wide receiver Adam Gajjaoui went down with a knee injury. But a determined effort from the Tewksbury defensive corps kept a potent Concord-Carlisle offense in check, and the Redmen held on for their first win of the season.
“I'm proud of the way the kids responded,” Aylward said. “They fought hard all the way to the end. It was a lot of guys’ first time in a varsity battle and you never know what you're gonna get in that situation. I think they grew a little bit today.”
Concord-Carlisle looked like the more experienced team in the early going, as the Patriots marched 80 yards on 16 plays eating up over seven minutes on the game’s opening drive. Senior quarterback Austin Hoey found senior running back Jovan Grant unattended in the end zone and Concord took a 7-0 lead.
But Tewksbury’s response was immediate and impressive. The Redmen put together their own 11-play, 64-yard drive that burned up the rest of the first quarter, and Carey capped the drive with a one-yard touchdown run to tie the score at 7-7 just 23 seconds into the second period.
On Concord’s next possession, junior defensive lineman Sean Barker, senior defensive tackle Kevin VonKahle senior defensive end Stephen Bonugli, senior defensive end Bobby Piccolo and junior linebacker Ryan Morris all made big defensive plays to force a three-and-out on the Patriot offense.
Tewksbury took advantage of a short field and marched 40 yards in just five plays to take the lead. Carey carried over from four yards out for his second touchdown of the day, and senior quarterback Brett Morris scored the two-point conversion on a QB sneak to make it 15-7.
Disaster struck quickly for Concord-Carlisle on the ensuing kick-off, as the Patriots fumbled the ball on the run-back, and TMHS sophomore running back Brandon Winn jumped on the loose ball to give Redmen possession on the visitors’ 21-yard line.
Tewksbury capitalized on the Concord turnover, thanks in large part to a 17-yard pass from Morris to senior running back Stephen Rosa on third-and-12 from the 23. That critical play set up Carey’s third touchdown of the afternoon, a six-yard run up the middle. Morris hit junior tight end Steven Catanzano with a two-point conversion pass, and the Redmen led 23-7 at the half.
The news was not all good for Tewksbury, however, as talented senior wide receiver Adam Gajjaoui suffered a third-quarter knee injury that left him sitting on the sidelines for the rest of the game. Gajjaoui had caught three passes for 32 yards, carried the ball once for eight yards, kicked an extra point and played a strong game at defensive back before the injury.
The TMHS passing game struggled without Gajjaoui in the game in the second half, and the Redmen had to rely on Carey, as well as junior running back Tyler Ward (five carries for 41 yards) along with Rosa and Ryan Morris to pound out some yardage on the ground and keep the ball out of Concord-Carlisle’s hands over the final two periods.
In the end, Tewksbury’s surprisingly successful running game made a big difference.
“It ended up being really important just in terms of utilizing the clock when we needed to,” Aylward said.
The Redmen take to the road next week for a game at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School next Friday night.