By Dave Dyer
---- — LAWRENCE — Losing big to Central Catholic two weeks ago wasn’t much fun for Haverhill, but it did result in a positive.
“After the Central game, we had a reality check,” said Haverhill coach Tim O’Connor. “We realized we had to put our best athletes on the field where they could help us.”
Specifically, that meant giving senior captain and defensive stalwart Tommy Maguire added duties on offense, which proved to be a stroke of genius in the Hillies’ 26-12 victory over Lawrence last night.
Maguire rushed for 68 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries, caught four passes for 39 yards, rushed for two extra-point conversions and returned an extra-point try 102 yards on an interception.
“I love it,” said Maguire, who was awarded a game ball following the victory. “I’ll do anything they want to help the team, but this was fun.
“That was a tough loss to Central but, like coach (O’Connor) said, it’s how you come back that matters.”
After a week off, Haverhill came on strong in the first quarter, scoring on a 3-yard run by sophomore Ian Kessel (23 carries, 107 yards) and adding a strange 2-point conversion when Michael Kwegyir-Attah recovered a blocked kick and ran the ball in.
Lawrence came back with a pair of touchdowns, a 1-yard run by QB Nelson Valerio and a 32-yard strike to Luis Crispin, to take the lead. But Maguire intercepted two extra-point pass attempts, returning the second one 102 yards for two points to make the score 12-10 at halftime.
The second half was all Haverhill with Kessel and Maguire scoring TD runs of 19 and 12 yards. Haverhill’s defense stymied the Lancers throughout the last two quarters, holding them to just 20 yards on the ground and 45 through the air. Also, Kessel helped the Hillies prevent a fourth quarter comeback with five carries for 39 yards and two first downs.
Among the defensive stalwarts for the Hillies were Samie Al-Ziab, Adam Mondello, Matt Burns and Taylor Gonzalez, all of whom put pressure on Valerio in the second half.
“I’m proud of the way we came back and played a more complete game,” said O’Connor.
Haverhill 26, Lawrence 12
Haverhill (2-1): 8 2 8 8 — 26
Lawrence (0-3): 0 12 0 0 — 12
H — Ian Kessel 3 run (Michael Kwegyir-Attah run after blocked kick), 2:31
L — Nelson Valerio 1 run (pass failed), 9:10
L — Luis Crispo 32 pass from Valerio (pass failed), 6:00
H — Tom Maguire interception return of extra point try, 6:00
H — Kessel 19 run (Maguire run), 1:19
H — Maguire 12 run (Maguire run), 6:50
RUSHING: Haverhill (36-184)— Ian Kessel 23-107, Tom Maguire 11-68, John Ramsdell 1-9, Shane Finn 1-0, Jordan Hunt 1-1; Lawrence (29-111) — Nelson Valerio 18-66, Kenny Richards 4-31, Edison Urena 6-12, Rainer Almonte 1-2
PASSING: Haverhill — Shane Finn 9-18-1, 113 yards; Lawrence — Nelson Valerio 9-15-1, 96 yards
RECEIVING: Haverhill — Maguire 4-39, Piero Garcia 1-10, Patrick Yale 1-36, Ramsdell 2-12, Kessel 1-21; Lawrence — Luis Crispin 2-43, Richards 1-0, Justin Rivera 2-30, Christian Valentin 2-16, Almonte 1-3, Luis Ferreira 1-4