MARBLEHEAD-- Although his team dropped a heartbreaking 35-33 game to Marblehead at Piper Field Friday night, Gloucester head coach Tony Zerilli could only praise the fight his team showed.
Trailing 28-7 early in the third quarter and mounting next to no offense, it appeared that the unbeaten Magicians were on their way to another rout. But Gloucester was not going down without a fight, a big fight.
The Fishermen outscored Marblehead 26-7 over the final 21 minutes of play and got the ball back with just over a minute to play and a chance to win, but ran out of time.
“We’re a team that fights,” Zerilli said. “We fight right to the end, I think we’ve showed the last two weeks that there’s no quit in Fishermen football. We played hard until the last minute, it was a close game but we fell just short.”
It appeared that Marblehead (5-0) put the game out of reach on its opening drive of the second half marching 76 yards in eight plays culminating with a Brooks Tyrrell 19 yard touchdown run. But Gloucester (3-2) didn’t panic, it kept fighting, it made adjustments, and it started to see some holes.
Gloucester got its fullback trap going in the second half as fullback Jordan Pallazola had more than 150 yards in the final 22 minutes alone with Jon Good adding 50.
The Fishermen used the fullback trap and a well timed 23 yard reverse from Connor Harris to get the score to 28-13, the drive ending with a Pallazola one yard run.
After forcing a turnover on downs Pallazola raced 73 yards down to the Magicians four yard line and would punch it in from the one two plays later and all of a sudden it was a game at 28-19.
“We manned up and started blocking better,” Zerilli said. “We told them at halftime the running backs need to block better, the line needs to block for the backs better and they responded.”
On the Magicians ensuing drive the Fishermen defense came up big again forcing a fumble with the home team driving at the Gloucester 32 yard line.
Eight plays later Gloucester found the end zone again, this time it was Good, who had a big 42 yard run on the drive, from four yards out bringing Gloucester even closer at 28-26.
The Magicians came right back on their next drive as quarterback Matt Millett hit Dylan Cressey for a 69 yard score on third and 11 giving them a two score lead at 35-26.
Just when it looked like Gloucester was done they again mounted an impressive drive led by a 59 yard reception from Ian Kennedy to Mike DeCaro inside the Magicians 10. Three plays later Pallazola scored again cutting the lead to 35-33.
The Fishermen defense had one last stop in them getting the ball back at their own six with 1:22 to play, but there was too much field to work with, and too little time left on the clock.
After a scoreless first quarter where the Gloucester defense made multiple big plays, Marblehead got on the board a minute into the second frame on an 11 yard Tyrrell run.
A Magicians fumble set up Gloucester for its first score as Kennedy hooked up with Connor Adkins for a nine yard touchdown, its first passing touchdown of the season, to tie the score at 7-1.
But Marblehead would end the half with a bang as Tyrrell scored another touchdown on the next drive, this time a nine yard run, and Millett hooked up with Brian Daly in the last 30 seconds of the half for a six yard score to make it 21-7.
Daly’s touchdown was set up by his own 60 yard reception inside the Fishermen 10.
“It was a couple of big plays that were the difference tonight,” Zerilli said. “We talked about it at practice to limit the big plays and we definitely did a good job of that at times, but they still got a couple on us. If we eliminate the big plays it could have been a different game.”