Billerica overcomes miscues to wallop Methuen

BILLERICA – The Billerica Indians overcame nine penalties and some defensive lapses to stay undefeated with a 42-15 victory over the Methuen Rangers Friday night at Marshall Middle School.

Billerica was paced offensively by quarterback Justin Beck (7-of-15 passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns; 14 carries for 156 yards and a touchdown), Jeff Trainor (three catches, 52 yards, two touchdowns, four extra points), and Drew Laundry (two rushing touchdowns)

The Indians’ first drive of the game took up 10:06 out of a possible 11 minutes in the first quarter. Despite five offensive penalties, Beck, Drew Laundry and Derek Laundry ground up the Methuen defense for 77 yards on 16 plays before Beck scampered in from 11 yards out to open the scoring at 7-0.

Midway through the second quarter, the Indians were set up by a fumble recovery at the Methuen 20-yard line but nearly turned the ball over on downs. A Methuen pass interference penalty on fourth and long gave the Indians (4-0) a reprieve, and Beck took advantage with a 17-yard run to set up Drew Laundry for a 1-yard touchdown rush to make it 14-0.

Just before halftime, Trainor intercepted a Kendrick Denose pass and returned it 50 yards to the Methuen 30. On the next play, Beck found Trainor over the middle for a 30-yard touchdown pass to extend the lead to 21-0 going into halftime.

The Rangers dusted themselves off and got on the scoreboard on the first play of the second half, as Denose took advantage of a misaligned Billerica defense and sprinted 77 yards for a touchdown to make it 21-7.

Any momentum that the Rangers might have gained was quickly snuffed out on the next drive, as the Indians drove 66 yards on 8 plays in 4:21, featuring passes from Beck to Justin Carlson of 34 and 26 yards to set up Drew Laundry for another a 1-yard score to make it 28-7 with 6:12 to go in the third.

After a Methuen three and out, Beck showed off his legs again with rushes of 15 and 43 to set up another touchdown pass to Trainor, this one for eight yards, to put the game out of reach at 35-7.

With the outcome in hand, Billerica brought in the second string and still couldn’t be stopped. With a short field to begin their first drive of the fourth quarter, Zac Burns had a 24-yard rush and Herby Pierre pounded it in from one yard out to make it 42-7 Indians.

Despite the win, Billerica head coach Duane Sigsbury wasn’t 100% satisfied with the effort. He said there were things that have to be fixed in time for their showdown with North Andover next week.

“We weren’t crisp,” Sigsbury said. “We made some mental mistakes… you can’t have self-inflicted wounds and be a great football team. Good and average football teams will make mistakes like that, great teams shouldn’t. We’re striving to be a great football team, and if we don’t clean it up, we’re not a great football team.”

Mike Hart Hopes Super Summer Will Pay Dividends

When Mike Hart stepped to the plate for the Lexington Blue Sox against Jared Freni of the Andre Chiefs in the bottom of the seventh inning of game three of the 2015 Intercity League Championship Series, he was faced with one of the most daunting tasks of his career.

Down 12-10 with two outs and a runner on third, Hart had to prolong the game against Freni, the five-time defending ICL Pitcher of the Year, who had not lost to the Blue Sox since 2011. If he failed, the series would go to a fourth game.

From there, according to Hart, it was a blur.

“Going into the inning I realized that I might get the chance to win or tie the game with my at-bat so I was ready for my chance,” he said. “The first pitch was right down the middle and I was right on it, so after that pitch the hype went away and it was just another at bat. I looked for another fastball middle away and two pitches later he gave it to me.”

When he did, he promptly deposited the ball over the left field fence to tie the game and force extra innings, where the Blue Sox would eventually win 15-14 and clinch their 11th ICL crown in their 21-year history.

“Off the bat I knew I made decent contact but it looked to high off the bat to go out. I knew it wasn’t a routine fly so I just watched the left field go back and back and back. I was hoping it would hit the fence or he would miss it so I was thinking of getting on third. When the ball went over I was halfway to second and basically blacked out until I hit home plate.”

Hart put together one of the greatest offensive seasons in ICL History in 2015. Over the course of a 30-game season, he led the league in batting average (.506), hits (39), triples (5), RBIs (22), runs (29), slugging (.818), on-base percentage (.596), and OPS (1.414), en route to his first ICL Championship with the Blue Sox and a likely ICL MVP award.

“As the season continued and the hits continued to add up, I just told myself to stay humble and continue doing what I was doing,” Hart said. “Don’t overswing, don’t overthink, no inside out swings, and see the ball as deep as I can. My confidence just continued to grow. The biggest change I have made this season was my discipline. I set myself up to see fastballs. I worked the count and didn’t chance balls so I forced pitchers to throw to me.”

These numbers may be a little surprising from someone who is trying to make a name for himself as a walk-on on the UMass Amherst baseball team. He hopes that a season like he had with the Blue Sox will earn him some more playing time.

“My coaches never mentioned my summer ball but I feel they have seen the stats and are impressed, but numbers don’t mean much if you don’t back it up,” Hart said. “This fall I will continue to improve and prove myself. I feel confident I will gain a starting job in the outfielder and contribute in the lineup.”

Whether he becomes a regular starter or not, Hart knows that as a redshirt junior he will be tasked with being a leader for the underclassmen.

“I feel I have the responsibility to teach the younger classes both on and off the field,” he said. “I’m still working my ass off but this time for a starting spot not, just a roster spot. I let my game talk and I hope the underclassmen can see me lead by example and hopefully I’ll be back for next year.”

G-D’s Mistakes Pave Way For SPM Victory

GROTON – Everything that could have gone wrong for the Groton-Dunstable Crusaders did Friday night in their 30-6 loss to the St. Peter-Marian Guardians at G-DRHS.

Quarterback Seamus Leary paced the Guardian offense by completing 11 of 18 passes for 171 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for a touchdown on a 6-yard scramble that saw him flip over a G-D defender to cross the pylon.

The Crusaders were plagued by miscues, including four false start penalties, four dropped passes, three sacks, two blocked punts, an interception, a missed field goal, and a missed extra point.

“Last week we probably got away with some mistakes, and that wasn’t going to happen against a better team like St. Peter,” Crusaders head coach Tom Sousa said.

A blocked punt turned into the game’s first score as SPM’s Alec Simonovitch scooped up his own block and returned the ball 41 yards for a touchdown, putting the Guardians up 7-0 with 7:31 to go in the first quarter.

“We put ourselves in a bad spot,” Sousa said. “They came very hard on the first series and attacked us. They won the line of scrimmage… our mechanics [on the punt] were very slow.”

The Crusaders defense stood strong after Ryan Carey intercepted a Michael Tammaro pass on their next drive, stopping a fourth down try in the red zone. But their offense continued to sputter, and after getting inside the Guardian 10-yard line on their first possession of the second quarter, two false start penalties, two incomplete passes, and a missed 28-yard field goal attempt gave the ball back to the Guardians, who capitalized on the ensuing series with a field goal to take a 10-0 lead into halftime.

After receiving the second-half kickoff, the Guardians (2-0) went to work with a purpose, marching down the field with an 11-play, 80-yard drive that culminated in a Leary-to-Simonovitch touchdown pass to extend the lead to 17-0.

The Crusaders (1-1) finally got on the board in the third quarter as Tammaro (8-for-17, 89 yards) found Jack Battles for a 13-yard touchdown pass, his only reception of the game, but after a missed extra point, the Crusaders were still down 11, 17-6.

SPM running back Anthony Baldino (8 carries, 93 yards) made the Crusaders pay for the miss on the next play from scrimmage, shedding five G-D defenders to bust off a 66-yard touchdown rush to put the game out of reach.

“Give [SPM] credit, they’re a good team,” Sousa said. “We thought we had a chance to turn the momentum at that point, and it didn’t work out that way.”

Crusader running backs Logan Higgins and Shane Dawson combined for 115 all-purpose yards.

A-B wins overtime thriller over Chelmsford

ACTON – The Acton-Boxboro Colonials pulled off a come-from-behind win in overtime against the Chelmsford Lions to claim a 22-21 victory Friday night at Leary Field

A-B quarterback Cal Sullivan (5-of-9, 39 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions) found Connor Cates (69 all-purpose yards) for a four-yard touchdown pass on the first possession of overtime, and Cates kicked the extra point to put the Colonials up 22-15.

The Lions barely stayed alive on 4th and goal from the 6-yard-line, as quarterback Kyler Brown (9-of-16, 118 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions) found Joe Levesque (four catches, 31 yards) as he was tightroping the right sideline in the end zone. He nearly fell out of bounds before he made the catch, but just barely managed to tap his toes to cut the A-B lead to 22-21.

The Lions then decided to go for the win with a two-point conversion. They went with a bootleg play to the right, but Griffin Beaudoin snuffed it out and sacked Brown behind the 10-yard line to set off the celebration.

Although many fans were surprised by the decision to run a bootleg to the right with Brown, a left-handed quarterback, A-B head coach Bill Maver had a hunch it was coming.

“We expected the quarterback to run,” Maver said. “We took a gamble… they did a great job.”

The Colonials trailed 15-7 with nine minutes left in regulation, but after recovering a Chelmsford fumble on 1st and goal at their 8-yard line, they went on a 12-play, 92-yard drive in 6:15 that culminated in a Sullivan-to-Liam Murray (120 all-purpose yards, two touchdowns) nine-yard touchdown pass and a two-point conversion rush by Murray to tie the game.

A-B (1-0) opened the scoring early in the first quarter after a Jack Maddox interception set them up at the Chelmsford 39. It took them six plays and 2:16 to find the end zone when Liam Murray (120 all-purpose yards, two touchdowns) punched it in from four yards out.

The Lions (0-1) took scored the next two touchdowns, both by Tyrone Phet (24 carries, 180 yards). The first came on a 2-yard plunge that capped a 13-play, 80-yard, 7:01 drive to end the first quarter. He also tacked on a two-point conversion to give Chelmsford an 8-7 lead. Then he broke off a 55-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter to extend the lead to 15-7.

Before the game, the Colonials paid tribute to two Acton residents who died in the September 11th terrorist attacks, Phil Rosenzweig and Amy Sweeney, both of whom were aboard American Airlines Flight 11, the first plane that crashed into the World Trade Center. Sweeney was a flight attendant on that flight, and her son, Jack, now a senior running back for the Colonials, was named an honorary captain for the game.