TMHS Defense Smothers Lincoln-Sudbury, 20-7
Sep 19, 2015 01:23AM
● By Rick Spencer
Senior defender Stephen Bonugli (59) tracks down Lincon-Sudbury quarterback Dan Ryan
Tewksbury at Lincoln-Sudbury [6 Images] Click Any Image To Expand
How do you keep on winning football games when your top three running backs have graduated and your star wide receiver goes down with a knee injury in your season opener?
You throw a smothering defensive effort at the opposition and back that up with a super-efficient, clock-eating ground game, that’s what you do.
At least that’s what coach Brian Aylward and his Tewksbury High football team did to Lincoln-Sudbury High Friday night. The Redmen rolled down to Sudbury and held the defending Dual County League champion Warriors to zero first downs and minus-2 yards from scrimmage in the first half and pinned a 20-7 loss on their hosts thanks to a smash-mouth defensive effort and another standout rushing night from senior running back Troy Carey.
Carey ran the ball 18 times for 108 yards and two touchdowns to lead a ball control offensive effort that helped TMHS enjoy a huge advantage in time of possession. If these two football teams were a couple of kids in the school yard, the Redmen would have been scolded for not sharing, as their offense held the ball for 16:25 of the first half and only let the Warriors keep it for 5:35. Five Lincoln-Sudbury possessions in the first half yielded no first downs, three 3-and-outs, and an interception.
“We did a good job,” said Aylward of his team’s defensive effort. “Our linebackers did a great job and our defensive ends did a great job.”
None stood out more so than junior linebacker Ryan Morris, who seemed to be in on every tackle. Morris was part of a standout pass rushing effort that saw the Redmen record five sacks against Lincoln-Sudbury quarterback Dan Ryan. In addition to Morris, defensive linemen Sean Barker, Kevin Von Kahle, and Stephen Bonugli and linebacker Broc Dokos all were in on quarterback sacks.
“We have multiple guys that give us something different (on defense) and we found the right combination with those guys tonight,” Aylward said.
“We just went out and tried to put the offense in good position to score touchdowns,” Ryan Morris said. “We put in the work all summer long and even at camp. I’m not surprised it’s paying off.”
Perhaps the most pleasant surprise of the night was the emergence of 5-8, 140-pound junior defensive back Aaron Whitehouse, who took full advantage of the increased opportunities he inherited when senior wide receiver/defensive back Adam Gajjaoui suffered a knee injury (he is expected to be out 2-3 weeks) in the team’s opener against Concord-Carlisle last Saturday.
Whitehouse did a little bit of everything Friday night, including returning punts and dishing out a highlight reel hit on kick coverage. But he really made his mark in a three minute stretch of the second quarter when first, he set up Tewksbury’s second scoring drive with an interception on the Lincoln-Sudbury 23-yard line, and second, he hauled in an eight-yard touchdown pass from TMHS senior quarterback Brett Morris. That TD pass and a Morris pass to junior tight end Steven Catanzano for the two-point conversion put Tewksbury ahead, 14-0 with 3;30 to play in the first half.
“He (Whitehouse) had to earn those extra snaps he got tonight,” Aylward said. “We told him he needed to be more physical. Hey, we live in Tewksbury so I don’t care if you weigh 125 or 130 pounds, if you want to be a player, you have to be physical. It’s not like you’re the first small guy we've ever asked to go out there and be a tough guy.
“You gotta be a tough guy and he was. I was happy with what he did,” Aylward added.
Other than Whitehouse’s heroics, the Tewksbury offense was all about Carey again Friday night, as the shifty senior running back cracked the 100-yard mark for the second time in two games this year, and scored two more rushing touchdowns. Carey now has 214 yards rushing and five touchdowns on the season.
Carey staked the Redmen to a 6-0 lead with 1:19 left in the first period when he capped a 10-play, 48-yard drive with a nine-yard scoring run. He did it again in the third period, extending Tewksbury’s lead to 20-0 with a 10-yard touchdown scamper.
On the night, Tewksbury rolled up 207 rushing yards as Brett Morris (3-for-31) , junior running back Tyler Ward (7-for-30) and senior running back Stephen Rosa (7-for-34) also piled up significant yardage on the ground.
Morris completed just five of 13 passes for 29 yards and one touchdown, but he contributed three big first down runs.
“He came off to the sideline and I said ‘Hey, dual threat quarterback from Tewksbury Mass, just like they say on ESPN,’” Aylward said. “We needed that. I’m sure there were a few (passes) he’d like to have back but just his poise in running the huddle and making sure guys are ready to play every play, that in itself is huge. He's our leader out there.”
So the Redmen will take a 2-0 non-league record into their Merrimack Valley Conference opener against Lowell next Friday night, and while the Red Raiders are off to a shaky 0-2 start, Aylward wasn’t ready to begin making play-off predictions based on his team’s play so far.
“It (being 2-0) is a whole lot better than 0-2, but other than that we gotta get ready for Lowell,” he said. “I tell these guys you can’t look in the rear view mirror because every team is gonna try to come out and get you.”
The Lowell game is at 7:00 p.m. Friday night at Lowell’s Cawley Stadium.