HAVERHILL — With Chance Brady banged up and out of action, Haverhill went to the “closer by committee” theory.
Defensive lineman Curtis Robart came through with a pair of tackles in the backfield.
Stephane Bristol ripped through from the edge and lowered the boom on two bone-rattling sacks.
Matt Serra had a late interception, and Brady’s backfield replacement, Tommy Maguire, eventually made it a two-TD game with a 17-yard TD burst up the gut.
But it wasn’t until Serra pounced on a botched Lawrence hook-and-ladder pitch that the Hillies could actually proclaim that the resilient Lancers were done, 28-20.
“We rely on Chance so often, this was crucial for the defense to really step up,” said the senior Robart. “The defense handled it just fine. We had to slow them down, and we got to the quarterback. This was huge.”
The victory pushed the Hillie mark to 7-2 on the year, and it was especially gratifying for the defense, considering Brady left the game mid-second half. Coach Tim O’Connor said Brady suffered a “stinger” in punt coverage.
Brady did manage 137 yards and a TD on 22 carries before he left with the Hillies up 21-14.
From disaster comes victory: Tommy Morgan turned near disaster – fumbling a snap on 4th-and-goal from the 1 – into gold when he scooped up the loose change, evaded the rush and spotted a wide-open Jordan Javier standing alone in the end zone on what was intended to be a running play.
The TD gave Haverhill the advantage for good with 1:44 remaining in the third.
Lancers show grit: Lawrence High coach Mike Yameen had to be proud of his kids’ and their effort, coming off their first win last week.
Down but not out at 1-7 coming in, Lawrence fought to the end and had a chance in the final minute when Nelson Valerio hit George Urena for a 61-yard TD bomb to cut it to 28-20 and Nathaniel Cruz recovered the onside kick.
“Our kids played hard, and that shows a lot. They’ve bought in,” said Yameen. “They played well against a very good team tonight and just came up a little short.”
The Lancer were again plagued by penalties (11 for 86 yards).
Clicking combos: It was another big night for the Lancers’ Valerio-to-Urena connection as they hit four times for 103 yards and the score. The Hillies answered with unsung Shaine Roche, who caught three straight balls including the 4-yard TD strike from Morgan, putting the Hillies on the board just before the half at 7-6. Roche has put together a short string of highlight-film catches down the middle this year, including a sliding 22-yarder last night.
Haverhill 28, Lawrence 20
Lawrence (1-8): 6 0 8 6 — 20
Haverhill (7-2): 0 7 14 7 — 28
L — Justin Flores 12 run (pass failed) 4:17
H — Shain Roche 4 pass from Tommy Morgan (Yale kick) :27.5
H — Chance Brady 44 run (Yale kick) 9:39
L — George Urena 21 pass from Nelson Valerio (Valerio to Jeremiah Damiron pass) 5:33
H — Jordan Javier 1 pass from Morgan (Yale kick) 1:44
H — Tommy Maguire 17 run (Yale kick) 1:39
L — Urena 61 pass from Valerio (pass failed) 1:24
RUSHING: Haverhill — Brady 22-137, Roche 1-7, Morgan 3-(-13), Maguire 7-11; Lawrence — Damiron 6-18, Flores 7-41, Valerio 10-(-1), Chris Pena 1-6, John Roy 1-11, Louis Rosa 1-(-5)
PASSING: Haverhill — Morgan 9-24-0, 95; Lawrence — Valerio 9-20-1, 182
RECEIVING: Haverhill — Roche 3-38, Javier 2-26, Ramsdell 4-31; Lawrence — Franger Baez 4-67, Damiron 1-12, Urena 4-103