ANDOVER – Yesterday afternoon’s first half proved a bad news, good news situation for Greater Lawrence.
The Reggies couldn’t have played any worse than it did the opening 20 minutes but, despite the lack of inertia, they trailed by only six points.
Then it took Isaiah Roman a mere 13 seconds to ignite the Greater Lawrence sideline.
The junior’s 65-yard return of the second-half kickoff, however, failed to spark a complete comeback as the Reggies dropped a 22-12 non-conference decision to visiting Manchester Essex.
Greater Lawrence, which gained 19 yards on 18 first-half plays, didn’t pick up a first down until its 25th play with 1:09 left in the third quarter. The Reggies finished with only three first downs — each occurring on their only scoring drive — and a paltry 64 yards of total offense on 35 plays. The unenthusiastic performance left the Reggies’ coach stunned.
“That’s one of the main things we’re trying to get across,” said Tony Sarkis, whose squad scored 52 points while splitting their first two games. “You can’t play unemotional football. You’re never going to get there that way, and that’s the way we played today.
“The second half we picked up slightly, but we didn’t get to the intensity we needed to. It was horrible. Offensively, we didn’t come out to play and I don’t know what to say about that.”
Manchester Essex (1-1) opened quickly, going 75 yards on the opening possession for the six-point advantage it maintained the remainder of the half. That scoring drive lasted one second shy of 4 minutes, the same amount of time Greater Lawrence consumed on its first three possessions combined.
But despite the offensive woes, Greater Lawrence hung tough with a defense that had four tackles for losses and forced Hornet quarterback Craig Carter to throw incomplete on 20 of his 29 attempts. Angel Martin had an interception that set up the Reggies’ only scoring drive.
“The defense played well at times,” Sarkis said. “We had some breakage in coverage, but (the Hornets) made some big plays. A guy breaks off a 20-yarder on third-and-15 — it’s just all those little big plays.”
With a big Commonwealth Conference opener at home against Whittier on Saturday’s horizon, Greater Lawrence did provide one productive possession when Ellicen Pena hooked up with receiver Jeremy Torres on an 18-yard scoring pass with 8:35 left, capping a 36-yard drive and cutting the deficit to eight.
“The optimistic part is that I think we have some good leaders on the team,” Sarkis said. “They need to pull those guys together that are still on the edge. We have to make sure they can pull their teammates up. We have some athletes out there that can catch and run, but we need to get a little more sound. We just have to play football.”
Carter scored the clincher for Manchester Essex with his second 1-yard sneak with 3:59 remaining.
agateHed:Manchester 22, Greater Lawrence 12
agateText:Manchester (1-1): 6 0 8 8 — 22
agateText:Greater Lawrence (1-2): 0 0 6 6 — 12
ME — Nate Riehl 4 run (pass fail) 6:01
GL — Isaiah Roman 65 kickoff return (pass fail) 9:47
ME — Craig Carter 1 run (Chris Dumont pass from Carter) 4:36
GL — Jeremy Torres 18 pass from Ellicen Pena (pass fail) 8:35
ME — Carter 1 run (Dumont run) 3:59
agateText:RUSHING: ME (39-193) — Dumont 14-73, Riehl 8-53, Chris Carr 5-52, Carter 12-25; GL (22-21) — Torres 11-33, Anthony Vasquez 7-5, Eric Rodriguez 1-3, Pena 3-(-20)
agateText:PASSING: ME — Carter 9-29-110 (1 interception); GL — Pena 3-13-33 (1)
agateText:RECEIVING: ME — Seth Cohen 3-36, Liam Logue 3-28, Dumont 2-28, Carr 1-8; GL — Vasquez 2-15, Torres 1-18