The Manchester Essex football team’s season opener Friday against Northeast was a tale of two halves.
In the first half the Hornets executed well on both sides of the ball against the always tough Golden Knights taking a 16-6 lead into the break. But in the second half, Northeast took advantage of a few Hornets miscues and executed themselves scoring 36 points over the final 22 minutes en route to a 42-28 win in Wakefield.
Although the Hornets lost to a fellow Division 5 North opponent, head coach Mike Athanas was still happy with the fight he saw from his team against a strong Northeast squad.
“I was pretty happy with the way we played,” Athanas said. “We really executed in the first half, I thought we played really hard too. We just made a few mistakes, a couple turnovers, a couple breakdowns on defense that led to scores. There’s definitely stuff we’ll need to improve on but the effort was definitely there for the whole game. We will get back to work (today) to fix some things.”
The Hornets (0-1) controlled the first half taking a 16-0 lead late into the first half on touchdown runs from junior quarterback Craig Carter and senior captain Nate Riehl.
But after a shanked punt gave the Golden Knights good field position just outside the Hornets 20, the home team was able to punch in a score cutting the Hornets lead in half at the break.
Things got worse for Manchester Essex to begin the second half as the Knights scored on a long pass early in the quarter to tie the game. Manchester Essex would then fumble the ensuing kickoff, which led to another Northeast score.
The Hornets however, fought back with Carter hooking up with Liam Logue for a 37 yard strike to tie the score at 22-22 in the third. But it was all Golden Knights from there scoring three more times while wearing Manchester Essex down with its power running attack. The Hornets got just one more score in the game, an eight yard run from senior captain Chris Dumont.
Athanas praised the play of his two senior captains along with Carter. He was also quick to credit the play of Doug Rodier and Brett Williams on the defensive end.
“They’re a tough team and they executed in the second half,” Athanas said. “They wore us down a little bit but they really took advantage of our miscues.”
The Hornets have a bye in Week 2 but are right back at it on Saturday, September 21 at Greater Lawrence (1:00 p.m.), another Division 5 North opponent.