Thanksgiving Throwdown: North Andover Grinds Out Tenth Straight Win
Masco No Match For Playoff Bound Knights; Final Score 20-7
Just before noon on Thanksgiving morning the town of North Andover was injected with a high dose of football euphoria when the Scarlet Knights hoisted the Turkey Day trophy at their home field, Walsh Stadium.
The Knights, already champions of the Cape Ann (Large) Conference, hit Masco on the chin with a 20-7 grinder of a victory.
It was their tenth straight triumph in what has been a marvelous season for the playoff bound North Andover squad.
"Great atmosphere… I'm really really happy for our kids, I thought they played well," said John Rafferty, North Andover's Head Coach.
Knights quarterback Brandon Walsh was a nightmare for the Masco defense. He completed 13 of 19 passes for 75 yards including a 20 yard touchdown pass to junior Dan Laorenza in the second quarter.
"He's a great football player," said Masconomet Head Coach Jim Pugh of Walsh.
Walsh leads Division 2A with 23 touchdown passes this season.
Walsh also did damage in the run game, rushing for 80 yards off 12 carries.
His teammate, running back Jack Murphy, carried it 16 times for 44 yards including a third quarter touchdown.
The game came down to a fourth quarter possession for Masconoment when they were down 14-7.
On a 4th down and goal play at the 2 yard line, Masco quarterback Ben Panunzio tossed the ball to running back Dylann Mann who lobbed up a pass that fell incomplete.
North Andover took the ball over on downs and marched down the field for a 98 yard touchdown drive highlighted by a 51 yard scramble by Walsh.
Jack Murphy inserted the dagger into the Cheiftans with a one yard rushing touchdown for a 20-7 lead with 2:15 left in the game.
North Andover broke Masco's three game Thanksgiving Day winning streak.
"You just have to tip your hat to them," said Pugh.
The Scarlet Knights now hold a 30-14-1 advantage in the 45 year rivalry between the schools.
"It's real special," said Rafferty, whose squad celebrated their tenth consecutive win by holding up the Turkey Day trophy at the 50 yard line before their adoring fans.
North Andover now sets its sights on Tuesday's playoff game against Concord-Carlisle at a neutral site which is to be determined.
"We have four days to prepare for our opponents," said Rafferty.
His team would advance to the Division 2A Super Bowl at Gillete Stadium on Dec. 4 with a win on Tuesday.
"We wish them luck in the playoffs," said Pugh.
The Knights now hold a stout 10-1 record, but that and their 10 game winning streak will not be enough to intimidate Concord-Carlise.
Masconomet's season is over after a dismal 2-9 season.
"I don't know what to say," said Pugh.
Masco was outrushed on the day 146-89.
The Cheiftan's quarterback Ben Panunzio was a bright spot, completing 11 of 23 passes for 115 yards.
He had a 38 yard touchdown pass in the third quarter as well as an interception to North Andover's Joe Swanton in the second.
"Masco has a wide open attack… Fortunately our kids for the most part did a good job with their responsibilities and assignments," said Rafferty of his team's defensive performance.
The Knights have outscored opponents 380-94 during their ten game winning streak.
North Andover enjoyed their last Thanksgiving Day win in 2006 at home against the Cheiftans winning 20-6.
Revisit Patch for the location of Tuesday's game and a comprehensive Scarlet Knights Playoff Preview.