HAVERHILL — Its Turkey Day clash with Lowell in serious jeopardy, the Haverhill High football team closed 2013 with its best half ever.
Even up 21-7, Lowell High never stood a chance and fell to the Hillies, 28-21, before about 500 fans here at Trinity Stadium.
Both teams finished the year at 7-4.
“I think coach (Tim O’Connor) challenged us as a team to step it up. I mean one of their TDs came on a fake punt and another came off of a blocked punt,” said Hillie senior defensive end Matt Burns, who ended his career in style with a pair of big sacks and a forced fumble.
“We needed to do it, and we needed to do it as a team.”
The Hillies simply slammed the door shut on defense.
Burns, Taylor Gonzalez, Phil Panici and Mike Attah all played stout up front. And when the Raiders took to the air, Haverhill’s secondary more than lived up to its billing.
Lowell managed just 53 yards after the break, and the Hillies forced three turnovers, pouncing on the opportunities to get back into the contest.
Battered and clearly playing in pain, Johnny Ramsdell helped turn the tide with Haverhill facing a 4th-and-goal from the Lowell 7.
The diminutive receiver worked open into the flat at the 3 and pulled in a Shane Finn fastball. He spun, made one Raider miss and then plowed through another to bounce into the end zone for the score.
A wind-aided Pat Yale pitching wedge lofted up, clanged off the crossbar and vaulted through for the PAT and a 21-14 game.
Minutes later, a lethal Josh Dion hit forced a Lowell fumble. And this time, it was Stephane Bristol who made the visitors pay, sweeping left on an 18-yard TD run to knot it at 21-21 headed to the fourth.