NORTH ANDOVER — North Andover High coach John Rafferty has seen a lot of things over the few thousand football games he has seen as a player, coach or even a fan the last five decades.
But he had never seen one particular number posted like the one posted by his star running back, Nick Oswald, last night:
402 yards rushing.
It is believed to a record in the Merrimack Valley and Southern N.H. region. A boy from Putnam, Mass., Melquawn Pinkney, rushed for 421 yards on 17 carries with six TDs in a 66-0 win last September.
This was different. Most of Oswald’s yards came when the game was still a game. The Knights beat Dracut 56-28.
“I still can’t believe it,” said Rafferty about 20 minutes after the game. “I’ve been around awhile. I’ve seen games on TV with Tony Dorsett, and guys like that. I played and I’ve coached a long time. I’ve never heard of 400 yards rushing in one game. Never.”
Oswald had played the game of his life two weeks ago, when the Knights clobbered Methuen, 35-0. Oswald scored all five touchdowns and finished with 201 yards rushing.
Last night, he had compiled that by halftime (22 rushes, 228 yards).
“I knew I had a pretty good game, but I figured it was somewhere under 300 yards,” said the 5-foot-7 Oswald. “I had no idea. I just kept getting the ball and I kept running. Honestly, my line and my fullback were amazing. Every time I got to the line of scrimmage there was a hole. I just ran through it.”
Oswald ran for four touchdowns. He had TD runs for 23 and two yards in the first half. In the fourth quarter, he scored on runs of 33 and 50 yards.
“Other than those (last two runs), most of his runs were for 10 or 15 yards,” said Rafferty. “He also had some tough yards, for five and six yards, in the middle of the line. Usually when guys have 200- or 300-yard games, they get a few 70-yard runs. That’s not what happened. Maybe that’s why I didn’t realize it.”