DRACUT — A couple of days before his squad’s Thanksgiving Day showdown, Methuen’s Tom Ryan said the season would be successful win or lose against border-rival Dracut.
Turns out the first-year coach wasn’t being completely honest.
In fact, Methuen’s 29-20 victory over Dracut yesterday left the Ranger leader struggling to hold back his emotions. The win was the third straight over the Middies, who now hold a 26-22-3 edge in a series begun in 1963. It also put the Rangers over the .500 mark for the first time since finishing 9-2 in a 2010 season that ended with a 19-12 loss to Dracut for the MVC Division 2 crown.
“I was full of crap,” said a misty-eyed Ryan, whose team outscored Dracut 64-40 in its two-game season sweep. “I wanted 6-5 (season record) real bad and so did the coaching staff and these kids. It means so much to us to have a winning season, especially after being down for a couple of years. Things hadn’t gone their way. We knew we had to give everything we had to win this game, and these kids did that.”
Methuen set the tone early, moving 75 yards on an 11-play opening-game possession that Willy Weinhold finished with a 10-yard pass from Austin George-Williams.
Tied at 7, Dracut (3-8) stymied a Ranger drive in the second on a George-Williams interception inside the 5, but Methuen reclaimed momentum three plays later when nose tackle Mike Golio recorded a safety, tackling Middie quarterback Tyler Bassett.
“Our defensive line was very good today,” Ryan said. “We were disciplined and that’s why they couldn’t run the zone plays they like to do. We sat in the holes and the quarterback didn’t seem to know what to do.”
Methuen scored the game’s next two touchdowns on scoring tosses from George-Williams to Evan Lacroix of 31 and 7 yards. The first score capped a three-play drive in which Lacroix combined for 55 yards and about seven broken tackles on consecutive pass plays. George-Williams was a solid 13 of 17 for 156 yards.
“You have to trust each other to make the plays on a windy day like this,” said Lacroix, who hauled in seven receptions for 108 yards and also recorded a pair of sacks from his stand-up end position. “The offensive line gave a bunch of time and it was simple throw and catch to make something happen.”
Dracut cut its deficit to eight with 4:36 left in the third, but Weinhold, who finished with 142 yards on 19 carries, secured the victory on a 5-yard run, providing a 29-14 advantage with 3:04 remaining.
The victory wrapped up Methuen’s erratic season that began on a four-game winning streak that segued into a four-game losing skein.
“Considering the tough times we’ve had the past couple years to come back strong my senior year means a lot,” senior quad-captain Lacroix said, referring to a pair of 3-8 campaigns. “This whole program was turned around. It’s a staple of what Coach Ryan has brought and is teaching us.”
Methuen 29, Dracut 20
Methuen (6-5): 7 9 6 7 — 29
Dracut (3-8): 0 7 7 6 — 20
M — Willy Weinhold 10 pass from Austin George-Williams (George-Williams kick), 4:26
D — Tyler Bassett 52 run (Chris Seidl kick), 8:08
M — Safety, Mike Golio tackled Bassett in end zone, 3:25
M — Evan Lacroix 31 pass from George-Williams (George-Williams kick), 2:28
M —Lacroix 7 pass from George-Williams (pass failed), 5:35
D — Jacey Hebert 4 run (Seidl kick), 4:36
M — Weinhold 5 run (George-Williams kick), 3:04
D — Bassett 17 run (kick failed), 1:41
RUSHING: M (31-192) — Weinhold 19-142, George-Williams 11-45, John Maginnis 1-5; D (37-199) —Hebert 17-76, Bassett 11-75, Gabe Morales 9-48
PASSING: M — George-Williams 13-17-1, 156; D — Bassett 3-14-0, 32
RECEIVING: M — Lacroix 7-108, Weinhold 4-30, Maginnis 1-10, Christian Monserrat 1-9; D — Hebert 1-14, Adam Gagnon 1-11, James MacDonald 1-7