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Redmen Romp Over Malden Catholic In Season Opener, 43-21

Sep 10, 2016 07:02PM ● By Rick Spencer

Junior tailback Brandon Winn (9) gets set to fire off a halfback pass for a touchdown against Malden Catholic

With a baby-faced sophomore starting at quarterback and an inexperienced junior being asked to carry the load at running back, there was no telling what to expect out of the Tewksbury High football team's offensive attack this fall.
But junior tailback Brandon Winn and sophomore quarterback Jay Connolly looked like anything but newcomers Saturday afternoon as Tewksbury High's newest dynamic duo led the Redmen to an eye-popping, 43-21 victory over visiting Malden Catholic in the season's opener for both teams at Doucette Field.
Winn carried the ball 21 times for 164 yards and two touchdowns, and threw for another touchdown on a halfback pass, while Connolly completed 7-of-9 passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for one of his own, providing a one-two punch that Malden Catholic simply could not contain.
"Everyone came in (to the season) saying the defense was the specialty, but we put put up 43 points, so how often does that happen?" asked  a smiling Winn afterward. "They  bottled us up pretty good for the first few carries, but I just needed to break one loose and the offense got its rhythm after that."
"With a new quarterback and a lot of new guys stepping up, I thought we did pretty good right out of the gate," said senior captain Ryan Morris. "I was a little bit surprised with how well they (the underclassmen) did, but we put in the work in the off-season. We're always stepping up, we're always there to play."
Things looked a bit dismal for the Redmen for most of the first quarter. as Malden Catholic took the opening kick-off and marched 71-yards on an 18-play drive that ate up almost eight minutes of the first period. MC senior running back Kellen Field carried the ball six times for 58 yards and a touchdown on that drive alone, and it looked like Tewksbury was in for a long day.
But Winn and the Redmen responded with a five-play, 62-yard drive of their own. Winn broke through a hole and scampered 40 yards for his first career touchdown to tie the score at 7-7 just 2:22 after the visiting Lancers had taken the lead.
"I was a little nervous after that first (Malden Catholic) drive, with a lot of new guys out there and everything," Morris said. "But we made some adjustments and made the tackles."
"You would have thought that they were going to beat us 50-to-nothing after that first drive," agreed TMHS head coach Brian Aylward. "But we made the adjustments and they got themselves off track on a few plays."
Responding with a quick touchdown was one of the critical moments of the game, Aylward said.
"It's not just important for this team, it's important for any team, anywhere, because high school football is all about momentum," Aylward said of the rapid response. "We talk about that all the time. I tell them 'you get the momentum and you fight and defend it with your life. If you don't have it you're fighting to get it.' We had none of it after that first drive but we were able to fight and go get it back."
Junior safety Masyn Lorick helped keep the momentum flowing Tewksbury's way when he picked off a Malden Catholic pass on the MC 30-yard-line, setting up the touchdown that would put Tewksbury on top to stay. Four plays later Winn carried the ball in from nine yards out for his second touchdown of the day, then rushed for the two-point conversion to make it 15-7.
Malden Catholic responded with a quick strike of its own to close to within two at 15-13, but late in the second quarter, Winn reached deep into his bag of tricks and produced his third touchdown of the day. This time it was on a halfback pass, as Winn took a pitch from Connolly and found Lorick wide open behind the MC secondary for a 30-yard scoring strike.
Connolly, who was supposed to have been platooning with senior quarterback TJ Taddia in this game, pretty much took over the game from that point. The sophomore signal caller increased Tewksbury's lead to 29-13 at the half when he found senior wide-receiver Aaron Whitehouse open down the sideline and dropped the ball into Whitehouse's arms for a 38-yard touchdown pass. It was the first touchdown pass of Connolly's varsity career, but it wouldn't be his last.
Connolly pretty much putt he game out of reach on the opening drive of the third quarter when he capped 13-play, 70-yard drive by connecting with junior running back Blake Hiltz on an eight-yard touchdown pass that pushed the TMHS lead to 36-13.
Connolly would cap off his impressive varsity debut with yet another touchdown in the fourth quarter, this time carrying over from two yards out on a quarterback sneak. Connolly finished his first varsity game completing 7-of-9 passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns, while also rushing three times for five yards and a touchdown.
"He (Connolly) is a kid who has show a lot of poise over the past couple of years," Aylward said. "We had some concerns, and we had a good competition throughout camp with TJ Taddia. We felt like either of those guys could be effective, but Jay did a couple things better down the stretch."
Winn's stat line was just as impressive, as he ran for two touchdowns and threw for a third. In addition to his 164 rushing yards, Winn also returned three kick-offs for a total of 75 yards, rushed for a two-point conversion, handled the TMHS kick-off  duties and played a little defense as well.
"He (Winn) is a kid we've had expectations for," Aylward said. "We though  that he was gonna be a great player here as he got into high school. It's been a development process. I can't knock the work ethic he's had since last Thanksgiving. He's hopefully got a lot of upside to him."
Morris also had strong all-around game, with an interception and several hard tackles from his linebacker position and eight carries for 21 rushing yards. The Redmen created three Malden Catholic turnovers while committing only one of their own.
Winn was plenty happy with the way things turned out for TMHS in his debut as the team's featured back.
"I feel feel confident, but there's still a few things to work on," he said. "But it was a good start. Everything just fell together and just pieced itself together. It's what we needed."

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