By Mike McMahon
---- — ANDOVER – Without star quarterback Ellicen Pena, Greater Lawrence went back to the ground, grinding out a 30-21 win over a rejuvenated Georgetown team that was winners of two straight games after starting the season 0-7. The Reggies are back to 5-5 with a Thanksgiving eve matchup with Whittier looming in two weeks.
Pena, who is second in the area with 1,661 passing yards and 14 touchdowns, suffered a thumb injury last week and is likely done for the season.
The Royals controlled the game for much of the first three quarters, holding a 14-6 lead at halftime and a 21-14 edge at the end of the third quarter. Sophomore quarterback Cooper Martens was terrific on the ground, rushing for 229 yards on 28 carries, including a pair of touchdowns.
But the Reggies found a way late in the fourth quarter, scoring twice in the games final 3:46 to secure the win.
“I’m so proud of the heart and guts our guys showed,” Greater Lawrence head coach Tony Sarkis said. “We were trailing and to battle back the way we did ... we’re a big family and the guys played like that today. This was a team win, all around.”
Early in the fourth quarter, the Royals appeared to be on the verge of extending their lead to two touchdowns, but a Martens pass to the end zone was picked off by Isaiah Roman on the goal line, and he rushed it all the way to midfield.
“He’s one of the smallest guys on the team in terms of size, but he’s the toughest and has the biggest heart,” Sarkis said of Roman, a 5-foot-5, 135-pound receiver and cornerback. “We were still trailing, but that play saved the game for us, no doubt. They score there, they score that touchdown, and we’re done.”
Late in the fourth, Yoel Batista corralled in a pass from Angel Martin near the line of scrimmage and hit hole after hole, turning it into a 42-yard touchdown. Teammate Jeremy Torres rushed for the two-point conversion, giving the Reggies a 22-21 lead with 3:46 remaining.
The Royals turned the ball over on downs their next possession and allowed bruising tailback Eric Rodriguez to score in order to retain possession. But, the Royals were unable to stop Rodriguez on the two-point conversion, which extended the Reggies’ lead to nine points and all but ended the game with under a minute left.
“That’s obviously a big play right there,” Sarkis said. “We got the touchdown but we needed those two points to put it away.”
Pena’s loss resulted in the Reggies going back to the ground, rushing for 169 yards on 26 carries between four players. Angel Martin, who filled in at quarterback for Pena (he’s normally a wide receiver) led the team with 53 yards on eight carries.
“Angel stepped in and played great,” Sarkin said. “Without Ellicen we went back to what got us to where we are a little bit, you saw us run the ball more, but we’ve been that running type of team before too.”
The Reggies close out their season the night before Thanksgiving against Whittier at home. The Royals will host Manchester-Essex on Thanksgiving morning.
Greater Lawrence 30, Georgetown 21
Georgetown (3-7): 0 14 7 0 — 21
Greater Lawrence (5-5): 6 0 8 16 — 30
GRL — Eric Rodriguez 12 run (rush failed), 3:16
G — Cooper Martens 45 run (Jimmy Sherman kick), 7:49
G — Martens 35 run (Sherman kick), 5:46
GRL — Anthony Vasquez 3 run (Vasquez run), 7:15
G — Robert Dimento 11 run (Sherman kick), 1:14
GRL — Yoel Batista 42 run (Jeremy Torres run), 3:46
GRL — Eric Rodriguez 18 run (Rodriguez run), 0:54
RUSHING: G — Cooper Martens 23-206, Robert Dimento 16-98, Nick Depasquale 4-39; GRL — Angel Martin 8-53, Jeremy Torres 7-48, Eric Rodriguez 4-46, Anthony Vasquez 5-18.
PASSING: G — Cooper Martens 1-7-1 18, Jimmy Sherman 0-1-0 0; GRL — Angel Martin 3-15-1 78, Anthony Vasquez 0-1-1 0.
RECEIVING: G — Nick Depasquale 1-18; GRL — Yoel Batista 2-75, Isaiah Roman 1-3.