HAVERHILL — After a third-quarter incompleted pass nearly turned disastrous, Haverhill High coach Tim O’Connor let one of his assistants hear it.
“We can’t run the ball 50 times a game,” the assistant coach barked back.
“Oh yes we can!” screamed the boss.
The Hillies could and did as Shane Finn’s victory formation kneel-down to run out the clock made it 51 carries on the day as Haverhill simply chewed up Dracut, 21-6, here at McNamara Field.
The victory pushes the Hillies to 4-1, 3-0 in the league and sets up a Friday night classic at 5-0 Tewksbury for the inside track to a championship. The contest will be the first Tewksbury home game under the lights in history at Doucet Field.
“This could have been a 28-0 game, but we made a couple of mistakes,” said O’Connor, who was forced to sit out starting tailback Ian Kessel over a disciplinary issue.
Luckily, senior linebacker Stephane Bristol, who hadn’t run the football ever on the varsity, picked up the slack.
“The opportunity came up, and I just had to be there,” said Bristol. “I was a little nervous. I had never played varsity running back before. There were some first-time jitters. But by the second half, all that was washed away.”
By the second-half, Bristol bulled through holes like a proven warrior, racking up 153 yards and a score on 25 rushes to finish his offensive debut at 32-176.
“All we told him was hit the hole hard and fall forward, and we were confident he’d get 4 to 5 yards a carry,” said O’Connor. “He’s a senior captain, and he definitely stepped up like one.”
The defense cranked out another gem. In three MVC small games, they’ve allowed just three TDs. Yesterday was no different with Josh Dionne, Chiedozie Onwuka, Pat Yale and Tommy Maguire blanketing the Dracut receivers.
Scrappy defensive tackle Samie Al-Ziab seemed to have his hands all over Middie QB Tyler Bassett all afternoon, while middle backer Phil Panici (11 tackles) was on his usual, sideline-to-sideline seek-and-destroy mission.
Offensively, Maguire punished tacklers, chewing up 65 yards and a TD on his 15 tries. On a day in which the run game and the defense kept Dracut at arm’s length, QB Shane Finn landed the ultimate knockout shot, hooking up with John Ramsdell on a 47-yard TD bomb with 5:34 left in the game.
Haverhill 21, Dracut 6
Dracut (0-5, 0-3):0 0 0 6 — 6
Haverhill (4-1, 3-0):0 7 7 7 — 21
H — Tommy Maguire 2 run (Patrick Yale kick), 7:17
H — Stephane Bristol 11 run (Yale kick), 6:20
D — Tyler Bassett 50 run (kick wide), 9:04
H — John Ramsdell 47 pass from Shane Finn (Yale kick), 5:34
RUSHING: H (51-270) — Tommy Maguire 15-67, Stephane Bristol 32-176, John Ramsdell 2-21, Jordan Hunt 1-8, Shane Finn 1-(-2); D (25-145) — Tyler Bassett 10-105
PASSING: H — Finn 7-12-2, 140; D — Bassett 10-20-1, 98 RECEIVING: H — Piero Garcia 3-59, Maguire 1-4, Ramsdell 3-69