LAWRENCE — After giving up a whopping 123 points in their first three games, the Central Catholic defense did a bit of soul searching and the results have been dramatic.
The Raiders have given up just seven points combined in their last three games, including Friday night’s 41-0 drubbing of Lowell High, to celebrate Homecoming at Veterans Stadium.
Central Catholic limited Lowell (0-5) to just 148 yards of total offense and held standout running back Aaron Morris to only 25 yards on eight carries.
“These past three games our defense has improved and we’ve put together some good efforts,” said CC Coach Chuck Adamopoulos. “They have a really explosive back (Morris) over there and I thought our guys did a really good job on him.”
The defensive effort was led by linemen Jaden Wiggens and Preston Zinter, linebacker Sean Mercuri and a secondary that picked off a pair of Lowell passes.
In the meantime, quarterback Ayden Pereira had a monster game, throwing for 299 yards (11 of 17) and three touchdown passes and rushing for another score.
In fact, after a sluggish first quarter, marked by a handful of penalties, it was Pereria who opened the scoring early in the second quarter on a 43-yard draw up the middle. That opened the floodgates, as the Raiders erupted for three more scores to take a 28-0 lead into halftime.
“We kind of stubbed our toe in that first quarter with the penalties and some other mistakes. We picked it up and played a little better in the second quarter,” said Adamopoulos.
Pereira picked apart the Lowell defense with a combination of short swing passes and screens, with a few precision deep balls sprinkled in.
After Nathel Auchuo Jr. gave Central Catholic a 14-0 lead on a 3-yard touchdown run, the Raiders got the ball right back on a turnover. Morris hauled in a 47 yard pass from Evan Seng but before he hit the turf, CC’s Justice McGrail ripped the ball from his hands for a fumble recovery.
Three plays later, Pereira flipped a screen pass to Markys Bridgewater, who cut upfield behind a crushing block by senior Ryan Hebert and raced to the end zone for a 35-yard score.
Later in the quarter, an interception by Colton Williams led to a 40-yard touchdown on a swing pass from Pereira to Matthias Latham.
McGrail added a 50-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter and Matthew Blanchard capped the scoring in the fourth on a 25-yard run.
Central Catholic is back in action Friday, when it visits Methuen and looks to contain the Rangers’ high-octane offense.
Central Catholic 41, Lowell 0
Lowell (0-5): 0 0 0 0 — 0
Central Catholic (5-1): 0 28 6 7 — 41
CC — Ayden Pereira 43 run (Mike Ryan kick) 10:04
CC — Nathel Auchuo 3 run (Ryan kick) 6:07
CC — Markys Brudgewater 35 pass from Pereira (Ryan kick) 4:00
CC — Matthias Latham 40 pass from Pereira (Ryan kick) :18
Third QuarterCC — Justice McGrail 50 pass from Pereira (kick failed) 8:51
CC — Matthew Blanchard 25 run (Thomas Grimes kick) 8:51
RUSHING: Lowell (23-74) — Aaron Morris 8-25, Evan Seng 3-15, Jaedyn Sim 3-13, Aiden Millinazzo 5-25, Tyshon Johnson 1-1, Blake Ramos 2-0, Rithier Koam 1- minus 5; Central Catholic (26-174) – Ayden Pereira 5-57, Matthias Latham 5-32, Matthew Blanchard 3-29, Marcel Kekedi 1-15, Blake Hebert 6-12, Quinton Delorey 3-10,Gavin Lewis 1-9, Max Frediani 1-5, Nathel Achuo 1-3
PASSING: Lowell – Evan Seng 5-13-1-74, Aaron Morris 0-1-1-0; Central Catholic – Pereira 11-17-0-299, Blake Hebert 1-2—0-45
RECEIVING: Lowell — Aaron Morris 1-47, Aiden Millinazzo 1-12, Travis Van Dinter 1-12, Cameron Dukin 1-6, Jaedyn Sim 1- minus 3; Central Catholic — Justice McGrail 5-157, Mike Ryan 1-45, Matthias Latham, 1-40, Preston Zinter 2-35, Andrew Lesofsky 2-32, Markys Bridgewater 1-35, Ty Cannistraro 1-0