|Beverly stunned Billerica in the second half for a 19-18 victory to advance to the D2 State Semifinal|
By Mike Abelson (@ABELS0N)
BILLERICA -- Sam Abate did it all, and a little bit more for Beverly in the second half last night against Billerica.
Abate’s three second-half touchdowns powered Beverly to 19 straight points in and an improbable 19-18 come-from-behind victory over Billerica to win the Division 2 North title.
After not getting a single offensive touch in the first half, Abate took over in the final 22 minutes. He rushed the ball 10 times for 75 yards and two touchdowns and caught an 80-yard touchdown pass.
“In the locker room we realized that we needed to get things together,” Abate said. “Being down 18-0 is no easy task to come back from, but the guys stuck with it. All year we’ve been behind in games, and we’ve learned a lot from that.”
The highlight of Abate’s theatrics was his receiving touchdown on a flea flicker in the waning seconds of the third quarter. Kevin Morency handed it off to Kyle Chouinard, who flicked it back, and Morency dropped it on a dime to Abate, who won the footrace over the final 30 yards for a touchdown.
Beverly’s next possession, aided by a muffed punt from Billerica, was capped when Abate dove in from five yards out with 5:42 left in the game.
“I think we just started to get the ball to new guys,” Abate said. “We brought out different plays and we knew we could beat [The Indians] on the outside. We’re a fast team, and that was our game plan. We had that flea flicker up our sleeve and we had an 80-yard touchdown off it.”
Abate also scored from 29 yards out on Beverly’s first possession of the third quarter.
Of course, he was only able to play hero because of Billerica’s prolific dominance in the first half. The Indians crushed Beverly before halftime in every possible way. Billerica out-gained Beverly 178 to 5 in the first half and held the Panthers without a first down before the break.
Senior tailback Derek Laundry rushed for 104 of his game-high 144 yards in the first half and scored. Billerica got a rushing touchdown from Pat Quinn, and a 25-yard field goal from Jacob Carlson, to go into halftime up 18-0.
In the second half, the Panthers ran more man defensive coverage and held the Indian offense at bay. Beverly out-gained Billerica 163-154 in the second half.
“We wanted to make them [beat us] over the top,” Beverly coach Andrew Morency said. “We wanted to lock them up and see if our front seven could make some noise.”
Beverly’s reward is a date with D2 South champion Duxbury for the right to play at Gillette Stadium. That game will take place at Cawley Stadium, in Lowell, next Saturday afternoon at 1:30.