GLOUCESTER-- Early in Gloucester’s 43-15 win over Salem Friday night at Newell Stadium, it appeared that the Fishermen and Witches would engage in a shootout.
It took just four plays for Gloucester to get on the board on its first drive of the night with John Curcuru racing 49 yards to pay dirt. The Witches also had little trouble finding the end zone on their first drive, traveling 75 yards on 13 plays culminating with a Genrri Rosario six yard run. Two drives, two scores, two impressive offensive possessions.
Gloucester, however, made some adjustments against Salem’s read option, where quarterback Austin Connolly and running back Aaron Palmer gashed them on the opening drive of the game.
“We started to make a bit of an adjustment once they got into the red zone on the opening drive,” Zerilli said. “(Connolly) was riding that fake hard, we were over pursuing and he was hitting cutback lanes. But when they got in the red zone, the kids started to get a feel of what they were doing to beat us and how to stop it. We made a little bit of an adjustment with our linebackers but it was mostly the kids understanding what they were doing. You have to give a lot of credit to them for the way they played after that first drive.”
Following that first drive, it was straight up domination from the Gloucester defense in all facets of the game. From there, Gloucester forced a trio of three-and-outs while allowing just 81 more yards with the first team defense in the game before Salem mounted a touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter.
The Fishermen were always in the right spot, they gave equal respect to both the quarterback and the running back, and they tackled well.
Gloucester also shut down the Witches passing game holding them to -6 yards on two completions, which went for one yard and -7 yards.
The Fishermen also showed that they have depth in their backfield this fall. With Curcuru going down with an injury in the first quarter Gloucester needed to go to its bench, and that back off the bench was senior Jon Good.
Jordan Pallazola, who rushed for four touchdowns on Friday, moved over to running back while Good took over at fullback and the two did not miss a beat. Pallazola continued to be the bruiser picking up tough yardage while at the same time finding gaping holes in the Witches defense for big gains. At games end, Pallazola had 126 yards on 15 carries.
Good provided the big plays. He only carried the ball twice in the second half with the game out of reach, but those two runs went for a combined 82 yards, including a 36 yard touchdown run. Good finished with a game high 148 yards rushing on just nine carries, running Gloucester’s fullback trap to perfection by showing off his quick feet. Good also showed a nice blend of power and speed in the Fishermen victory.
Opponents will now have to game plan against three dangerous Fishermen backs, which will only help them in the long run.
Friday’s game also gave us one of the more unique plays in football. After Gloucester scored its first touchdown, Salem’s Shakir White picked up an errant snap and raced 90 yards for a two point conversion. It was a three point swing that gave the Witches momentum early in the contest.
Gloucester fans have not seen a play like that in 13 years, since the 2000 Division 3 Super Bowl. In that game it was Gloucester’s Brian Harnish that ran back a blocked Foxborough extra point attempt 100 yards for a two point conversion.
The Fishermen continue to dominate the Witches as they have not picked up a win over Gloucester since 1999, a 24-21 win at Newell Stadium that propelled them to a Super Bowl title.
Gloucester has now won 13 straight games over Salem by a combined score of 393-64. That’s an average score of 30-5.
The 2-0 Fishermen now enter their toughest three game stretch of the season with three contests against fellow Division 3 Northeast opponents, all of which figure to be playing in the postseason.
Gloucester will travel to Masconomet Friday night (7:00 p.m.), on Friday, September 27 Beverly will visit Newell Stadium (7:00 p.m.) and on Friday, October 4 the Fishermen will travel to Marblehead (7:00 p.m.).
The Fishermen can really make a move in Division 3 Northeast over the next three weeks.
Gloucester 43 Salem 15
at Newell Stadium, Gloucester
Salem (0-1) 8 0 0 7
Gloucester (2-0) 6 24 6 7
G- John Curcuru 49 run (kick failed)
S- Shakir White 90 extra point return
S- Genrri Rosario 6 run (kick failed)
G- Jordan Pallazola 5 run (Jon Good run)
G- Pallazola 5 run (Pallazola run)
G- Pallazola 1 run (Pallazola run)
G- Good 36 run (kick failed)
G- Pallazola 1 run (Eli Horne kick)
S- White 10 run (White kick)