By Nick Curcuru
---- — BOXFORD— After scouting Gloucester’s first two games Masconomet head football coach Jim Pugh laid out his team’s biggest key to victory: Match the Fishermen’s physicality.
With a dominant 27-0 win in their home opener at Bunker Field last night, the Chieftains did just that and some matching Gloucester blow for blow while dominating the line of scrimmage and out-executing their previously unbeaten opponent.
“We knew they would be a tough and physical team and they were. But we matched their physicality,” Pugh said. “We played good, hard nosed football and we made big plays. It’s nice to get into the win column against a quality team.”
Masco improves to 1-1 with the win while Gloucester falls to 2-1.
It was a total team effort for the Chieftains Friday. With the Fishermen defense focusing most of its attention on running back Mike Tivinis, it was the supporting cast that rose to the occasion. MacKenzie Cashin had a 56 yard touchdown run in the first quarter, Corey Tines had a few nice receptions and a pair of interceptions on defense, half back Mike MacKay threw a touchdown pass and quarterback Troy Bunker made several key runs in the win.
Masconomet set the tone right off the bat smothering Gloucester’s running game to a season low 111 yards while forcing a three-and-out on four of Gloucester’s first five possessions.
The victors also hit several big plays offensively.
The problem’s for Gloucester were simple, blocking and tackling.
“Blocking and tackling wins football games and we didn’t do that tonight,” Gloucester head coach Tony Zerilli said. “Give Masco credit, they were flying on defense and we couldn’t block them. They ran harder than us, blocked better than us and came after us all night.”
Harry Cwik got the Chieftains going with a 49 yard punt return touchdown in the first quarter to put his team ahead 7-0.
After forcing a three-and-out on Gloucester’s next drive Cashin raced 56 yards to the end zone for a 13-0 Masconomet lead.
“Last week I thought we were a bit tentative,” Pugh said. “But this week back on our home field in front of a big crowd the kids came out ready to play and really came up big early.”
Masconomet would add another score late in the first half when MacKay took a pitch from the backfield and threw a strike to Tines for a 25 yard touchdown. Bunker would add the conversion for a 21-0 lead.
“We were in the right spot a bunch of times but we missed tackles,” Zerilli said. “We were diving at ankles with our heads down and not wrapping up. That’s a good team with tough, physical runners and they got the better of us tonight.”
The Fishermen looked to get some momentum back before the half ended recovering a punt that hit off the Masconomet up-back at the 21 yard line. The Chieftains defense, however, came up big stopping Gloucester at the one yard line on the final play of the half.
Tivinis would add a 40 yard run in the fourth quarter to make it 27-0, where it would end.
Gloucester’s defensive front seven, led by Drew Shairs, David Dimaio and Jordan Pallazola, had strong games as did Conor Harris in the secondary, but the Chieftains were firing on all cylinders.
With the loss Gloucester will look to regroup, but it does not get any easier with defending Division 2A Super Bowl champion Beverly visiting Newell Stadium next Friday (7:00 p.m.).
“Masco got the better of us tonight, hopefully we will see them again down the line in the playoffs and have a better showing,” Zerilli said. “We just have to regroup and we will work to get better this week at practice to get ready for Beverly. It’s our first conference game and it’s an important one.”