By Dave Dyer
---- — HAVERHILL — “Let’s keep playing.”
That wasthe general message delivered by Greater Lawrence yesterday morning after the Reggies took apart Whittier in the second half on their way to a resounding 42-12 victory.
The convincing win lifted the Reggies to 8-3 and kept their hopes alive for a slot in next week’s State Vocational Large School Bowl at Lynn Tech. They’ll find out this morning if they qualify.
After yesterday, there is nothing that senior stars Cristian Rivera and Marcos Ortiz and the rest of the Reggies want more.
“I want one extra game, I don’t want to see the year end yet,” said Rivera. “It’s gone so fast.”
Said Ortiz: “Last year, we came up short (in the State Voke Bowl) and we want to redeem ourselves.”
After the performance the dynamic duo had yesterday, it’s understandable that they’d want to keep playing.
Rivera, who entered the game with 1,682 yards rushing, scored five touchdowns, one coming on a 66-yard kickoff return, and rushed for 208 yards on just 15 carries. Ortiz rushed for 102 yards and a touchdown and completed 5 of 9 passes for 82 yards.
Ahead 16-12 at halftime, Rivera and Ortiz took over in the second half, gaining 226 yards between them on 15 carries. Ortiz had 88 yards in Greater Lawrence’s last two possessions, usually after faking a handoff to Rivera.
”Cristian was running hard, so when the defense keyed on him it allowed me to get open space,” said Ortiz.
The Reggies dominated play from scrimmage in the second half, but the turning point may have come on the third quarter kickoff. Whittier kicked a ground ball up the middle and Rivera scooped up the ball, found a quick hole and went almost untouched 66 yards for his third of five scores.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever returned one (for a touchdown),” said Rivera. “It felt good.”
While the senior-dominated Reggies wore down Whittier offensively in the second half, their defense was just as effective. The Wildcats gained only 84 yards in the second half, threw two interceptions and had no plays that went for more than 8 yards.
Julio Morales and Jake Barchard led Greater Lawrence with eight tackles apiece, followed by Ryan Caredeo with seven. Angel Abreu had four tackles and a fumble recovery and Caige Nichols had four stops and both interceptions.
Jaylin Deveau scored both of Whittier’s first-half touchdowns, the first on a 64-yard pass play from Connor Bradley in which he took a short throw, used a wicked stiff arm and then went the distance. The second was a 3-yard dive that capped a nice 54-yard drive.
Sophomore Jesus Sanchez ran the ball 20 times for 69 hard-earned yards for the Wildcats, who finish their season at 7-4 and graduate only three senior starters.
“We’re very proud of that record,” said Whittier coach Kevin Bradley. “It was an outstanding year — we exceeded all expectations.”
Referring to the way the Reggies pulled away in the second half, Bradley said: “That’s when seniors take over, but we’ll remember that and learn from it.”
Greater Lawrence 42, Whittier 12
Greater Lawrence (8-3): 8 8 20 6 — 42
Whittier (7-4): 0 12 0 0 — 12
GL — Cristian Rivera 5 run (Rivera run), 6:43
W — Jaylin Deveau 64 pass from Connor Bradley (run failed), 9:42
GL — Rivera 1 run (Ortiz run), 6:51
W — Deveau 3 run (run failed), 0:53
GL — Rivera 66 kickoff return (run failed), 10:48
GL — Rivera 49 run (Ortiz run), 6:10
GL — Ortiz 2 run (run failed), 2:17
GL — Rivera 43 run (pass failed), 4:42
RUSHING: GL (28-313) — Cristian Rivera 15-208, Marcos Ortiz 12-102, Julio Morales 1-3; Whittier (40-129) — Jesus Sachez 20-69, Jaylin Deveau 7-23, Joshua Barton 3-5, Connor Bradley 2-5, Scott Bonneau 1-4, Robby Gramstorff 3-10, Joe Murach 2-5, Mitchell Censullo 1-6, Sidney Taylor 1-2
PASSING: GL — Ortiz 5-9-2, 82; Whittier — Connor Bradley 9-13-2, 132; Jake McCartney 0-1-0, 0
RECEIVING: GL — Jake Barchard 3-48, Caige Nichols 1-10, Angel Martin 1-24; Whittier — Justin Reyes 4-46, Bonneau 3-17, Deveau 1-64, Sanchez 1-5