GLOUCESTER — The Gloucester football team appeared to be on its way to a loss multiple times in the fourth quarter of its Northeastern Conference Large opener against Beverly Friday night at New Balance Track and Field at Newell Stadium.
The Fishermen offense was stuffed on a pair of late drives by the stingy Panthers defense and all the road team needed to do was take care of the football to run out the clock for a victory. But Beverly could not hold onto the ball as the opportunistic Gloucester defense, which forced and recovered four fumbles in the game, forced and recovered two of those fumbles on Beverly’s final two drives giving it a chance to win the game.
Gloucester would make the most of its chances as quarterback Ian Kennedy plunged into the end zone from one yard out with just 19.9 seconds to play to give his team a thrilling 18-14 win.
“Just when you thought it was over they fumble, we pick it up and we move down field for the win,” Gloucester head coach Tony Zerilli said. “We made a few big plays in their backfield. It was one of those grin and bear type of games, you don’t know what’s going to happen you just hope you play hard every play and have a chance to win at the end. We got our chance and won it.”
Mistakes were the key for Beverly (1-3) as two of its fumbles happened in the red zone and another in its own territory giving the Fishermen the ball back with under two minutes to play and a chance to grab the victory out of the jaws of defeat.
“You aren’t going to win when you make that many mistakes,” Panthers head coach Dan Bauer said. “You can’t take anything away from Gloucester, they played really tough, made less mistakes and deserved to win. When you make mistakes like that you put yourself in a hole. The kids played hard to the end like they always do but when you make that many mistakes its hard to win.”