Playoffs End Early For Redmen
Nov 07, 2015 08:16PM
By Rick Spencer
Senior running back Troy Carey (22) rushed for 84 yards against Danvers
The “Road To Gillette” hit a sudden dead end Saturday afternoon for the Tewksbury High football team, as the defending Division 3 Northeast Champion Redmen were eliminated from the MIAA play-offs by Danvers in a 14-13 nail-biter at Lowell’s Cawley Stadium.
The No. 2 and 3 ranked teams in the Northeast Sectional entered the contest having posted shut-out victories in their opening round games, so it was no surprise when a closely-contested defensive battle ensued. Both teams traded first half touchdowns, then pitched second half shut outs, and when the final whistled blew, only a missed first half point after touchdown kick on the Tewksbury side of the ledger separated the two teams.
Tewksbury, which entered the contest with a 6-1 record after blanking Salem, 37-0 in an opening round play-off game last Saturday, got another standout effort from senior running back Troy Carey, who carried the ball 18 times for 84 yards, caught three passes for 25 yards and also intercepted two passes from his defensive back position. Senior quarterback Brett Morris also had another strong outing, completing 9-of-14 passes for 120 yards while catching a touchdown pass. Senior wide receiver Adam Gajjaoui caught five of Morris’ passes for 82 yards.
But the Redmen simply had no answer for Danvers High‘s elusive junior quarterback Matt Andreas. A 5-11, 180-pound speedster, Andreas was masterful at following his talented offensive line and carried the ball 33 times for 160 yards and two touchdowns against Tewksbury.
Andreas completed just three of his 12 passes for 65 yards, but it was the Falcon signal caller’s feet, not his arm, that hurt the Redmen. He carried the ball on 33 out of the 35 running plays the Danvers coaching staff called, and showed a remarkable ability to find a seam and explode into the Tewksbury secondary.
“He was tough to bring down and he has some good guys in front of him,” said TMHS coach Brian Aylward of Andreas. “It was hard to get off blocks. When we got to him, we tackled him. But they were a big strong team and they utilized their physicality well.”
Tewksbury drew first blood when senior running back Stephen Rosa capped a 12-play, 66-yard opening drive with a two-yard touchdown run. Gajjaoui’s extra point kick made it 7-0.
But Danvers responded with its own 13-play, 45-yard drive that culminated in an eight-yard touchdown run by Andreas.
The Redmen went back with a 10-play, 68-yard drive that was highlighted by a 38-yard pass from Morris to Gajjaoui. TMHS found the end zone with a bit of trickery when Rosa handed the ball off to junior running back Tyler Ward, who found Morris open in the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown on a half-back pass. Tewksbury missed the ensuing extra point, however, and that would come back to haunt the Redmen in a big way.
Danvers took the lead on the final play of the first half when Andreas plunged over from the one-yard line. The Falcons’ successful extra point kick would eventually stand up as the game winner.
Both teams staged long second half drives that could have tipped the scales in favor of either team, but each team’s defense made the big plays when it had to. Carey intercepted Andreas twice in the second half, one of those picks coming on the Tewksbury one-yard line late in the third quarter. The Redmen responded by eating up almost the entire fourth quarter with an 18-play drive the brought TMHS all the way down to the Danvers eight-yard line before an incomplete pass on fourth-and-goal gave the Falcons the ball back with 2:32 to play.
“That defense was as good as any defense we’ve played against this year,” said Aylward. “They’ve got a couple of scholarship athletes and some real tough kids.”
“It was a tough game, but I thought our kids made the big plays when they had to,” said Danvers High coach Sean Theriault. “They’re gamers, that’s for sure.”
Tewksbury will finish its season with a non-playoff contest, most likely at home against Gloucester next Saturday, followed by its annual Thanksgiving Day game against Wilmington.