By Nick Curcuru
---- — GLOUCESTER-- The Gloucester football team has made a habit this season of pulling out close games and playing its best football in the second half.
Friday’s Northeastern Conference Large tilt with Lynn English at New Balance Track and Field at Newell Stadium was no different.
The Bulldogs high powered passing offense went to work in the first half led by 6’4” quarterback Jordan Lark and the visitors opened up a 21-7 lead. But Gloucester continued to fight, continued to adjust, dominating the second half and pulling out a 34-28 win. The win moves the Fishermen’s record to 4-2 on the year, matching its win total from the entire 2012 season, Lynn English falls to 2-2.
“We just keep on fighting, we never give up,” Fishermen senior captain Jason Lattof said. “This team is a bunch of warriors. We go out there and give it our all every series and every quarter. It’s the work we put in during the offseason that allows us to wear teams down late like this.”
Gloucester head coach Tony Zerilli was quick to credit his team’s second half effort as the team was able to make a few adjustments and control the final 22 minutes of play.
“It’s about making adjustments, seeing what they’re doing to beat you and finding out a way to stop it,” the Gloucester head coach said. “Offensively we were moving the ball all game, it was about fixing the defense. We made some adjustments at the half, got in the right spots and did a much better job slowing them down.”
Trailing 21-13 at the break, Gloucester got right to work drawing even on its first drive of the second half on a four yard run from Jon Good and a Jordan Pallazola two point conversion to make it 21-21.
The teams went into the final quarter tied at 21 each but the Fishermen quickly grabbed their first lead of the contest. On fourth and eight from the 35 yard line, quarterback Ian Kennedy hooked up with Conor Harris on a waggle play for a 35 yard touchdown strike to make it 28-21 Gloucester.
On the Bulldogs next drive it was the Gloucester defense’s turn to come up big, forcing a punt thanks to a big sack from David Dimaio and Nick Sanfilippo.
The Fishermen got the ball back with good field position on their next drive and once again delivered as a 35 yard Pallazola run set up his one yard score to make it 34-21.
Lynn English, however, would not go away as Lark hooked up with receiver Chris Lessard several times on the ensuing drive culminating in a leaping 18 yard touchdown pass from the latter to cut the lead to 34-28. The coverage was good on the play, Lessard just out-jumped the Gloucester defensive back.
“(Lessard) made two great catches tonight, he’s a player,” Zerilli said. “We knew that they had great athletes and they would try to out-athlete us down the field and they did on a couple of plays.”
Lynn English got one last chance after Gloucester fumbled on the Bulldogs 40 with just one minute to play and looked to be moving into striking distance when Lark hooked up with a wide receiver for a 40 yard gain. But Gloucester’s John Curcuru forced a fumble that was jumped on by Good sealing the win for Gloucester in dramatic fashion once again.
“It’s huge any time you can pick up an extra two points against a higher division team,” Zerilli said. “We struggled a bit keeping points off the board but we also made some clutch plays. That last touchdown drive was a great drive and the deciding factor in the game.”
Lark got the Bulldogs’ offense going on their first possession of the game, hooking up with Lessard for a 55 yard strike setting up a Zach Lozzi five yard touchdown run to make it 7-0.
After getting a stop on defense Lark went right back to work, this time hooking up with Lessard on a 33 yard touchdown strike as the Bulldogs’ receiver beat good coverage down the field with another athletic catch.
Gloucester responded on its next drive when Harris took a reverse 40 yards to the end zone to make it 14-7.
Lark, who had over 200 yards passing in the first half alone, brought the lead back to 14 points when he hit Kyle O’Connor for a 15 yard touchdown pass in the middle of the second quarter to make it 21-7. But the Fishermen mounted a nice drive at the end of the first half culminating with a seven yard Pallazola run on fourth down to cut the lead to 21-13 at the break.