MANCHESTER -- With a powerful North Reading squad coming to town, it was clear the Manchester Essex football team would need to be at its best if it hoped to compete.
In a battle of two Hornets squads, though, the host Hornets had nowhere near enough sting when they took Hyland Field last night.
North Reading returned a Manchester Essex fumble for a touchdown on the opening kickoff and never looked back, and by the final whistle, Manchester Essex was left with its worst loss in recent memory.
The 60-7 shellacking leaves Manchester Essex at 0-2 in Tier 4 of the NEC/CAL, and, more importantly, searching for answers to just what happened last night.
“There’s not much to say,” Manchester Essex coach Mike Athanas said. “It’s pretty self-explanatory. We give a game away and we don’t play. They’re going to take advantage of it and they did.”
North Reading put up points in just about every possible way, piling up 60 points despite running just 29 offensive plays and never throwing the ball.
Running back Carl Lipani ran for 186 yards and four touchdowns, also taking an interception 45 yards to paydirt. Evan Wade weaved through the Manchester Essex punt coverage for a Reggie Bush-like 70-yard punt return for a touchdown late in the first half. The Manchester Essex fumble gave North Reading a touchdown on its own kickoff to open the game. A botched snap on a punt gave North Reading just 18 yards to go for one of its first-half touchdowns.
Three of North Reading’s nine touchdowns came on returns. Four came on the first play of a possession.
According to Athanas it was the most lopsided affair he has seen during his time at Manchester Essex.
The Hornets (1-7, 0-2 NEC/CAL Tier 4) were unable to find a rhythm in any facet of the game. Their special teams struggled. Their offense managed just 131 yards on the day and a mere 18 total yards in the first half.