Friday, November 10, 2017

Melrose Edges Marblehead For Third D4 North Title Over Last Four Years

By Brandon Chase (@BrandonNChase)

Melrose — Isaac Seide seemed like he was always in the right place at the right time for the Melrose football team.

Need a big play to energize a stagnant drive? No problem. Looking for a momentum-thwarting stop in a key situation? Seide will cover that, too.

The junior two-way threat was the focal point of the Red Raiders’ 28-20 win over Marblehead Friday night in the Division 4 North final. Behind Siede’s 244 yards rushing on 27 carries and three touchdowns, Melrose captured its third sectional title in four seasons.

“A lot of them were not full-time varsity starters or anything last year,” Melrose coach Tim Morris said. “A lot of these guys played JV straight up last year and for them to keep progressing and gelling, getting confidence, it’s been great.”

The Red Raiders (10-0) handed Marblehead (9-1) its first loss of the season. Melrose will now face South champion Hopkinton (10-0) in the state semifinals at a time and date to be determined. Hopkinton knocked off Milton Friday in the South sectional final.

Seide, who has stepped into the lead rusher role to fill in for injured senior Rey Guity, displayed that confidence Morris spoke of on Melrose’s first drive, the opening drive of the game. Melrose methodically used its ground game in a 15-play, 72-yard romp down the field, which was capped off by a 5-yard run from Seide and put Melrose up 7-0 with 4:37 left in the first. Melrose led by that score after the first quarter. Seide got the call on 11 of the 15 plays, but his yards were hard-earned, his longest being an 11-yard carry. 

“We knew we wanted to score on the opening drive, so it was actually very important that we scored on that first drive because that really set the tone for the rest of the game and for the rest of the offense,” Seide said.

After the teams traded 3-and-outs, Marblehead went for it on 4th-and-3 at the Melrose 40 but senior Derek DiRaffaele swatted away the fourth-down pass. Seide took the first snap of the ensuing possession 60 yards for his second touchdown with 8:31 remaining in the second quarter.

But then, Melrose, which one its previous two playoff games by a combined five total points, may have seen deja vu closing in the rearview mirror. 

Marblehead senior quarterback Andy Clough connected with senior Derek Marino over the middle for a 25-yard touchdown pass to put the Magicians on the board at 14-7 and after Melrose punted on its next drive, Marino took the return to the Red Raider 15. That set up a 5-yard TD run by sophomore Tim Cronin and the extra point tied the score 14-14 with 1:55 left in the second.

“We did let them off the hook a couple times, but they’re explosive and they have that capability of making big plays like that,” Morris said.

But then Melrose answered right back as quarterback Charlie Stanton hit Gabe Nyland with a 10-yard TD pass which gave the Red Raiders a 21-14 lead at halftime.

A sloppy start to the second half — which began with Marblehead fumbling the opening squib kick and Melrose recovering — reached its strangest point when a Melrose punt from its own 33 was high but shallow and took a huge bounce backwards, so much that it landed at the Melrose 28. 

That allowed Clough to drive through the red zone, capped off with his 1-yard sneak on 4th and goal that just broke the plane. Seide, though, showed his defensive prowess in blocking what would have been the game-tying extra point and kept Melrose in the lead 21-20 with 55.6 seconds remaining in the third.

“It was big, but I had confidence in my defense,” Seide said. “I knew we were going to be able to stop them whether or not we blocked that extra point.”

Seide added his third touchdown, a 33-yarder down the left sideline with 3:29 to go in the fourth quarter.

Marblehead ventured into Red Raider territory in the final two minutes, but a staunch pass defense led by senior captain Colin Kiernan shut down the Magicians on their final possession.

“I don’t think they threw it as much in the first half, but as things got tighter, especially going down to that last possession, (Marblehead) did a good job,” Morris said. “They had no timeouts and they just went into empty formation … but we held on.”

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