WEST ANDOVER — Greater Lawrence never quite solved North Reading’s most successful offensive play Friday afternoon.
That failure and an 88-yard kickoff return spelled defeat for the Reggies, who dropped to 1-1 on the season after a 35-20 loss to the Hornets.
That one play was a pass in the flat, with three receivers lined up on the one side, one to get the ball and the other two to block.
That play worked on a steady basis in the first half and, when the Reggies got accustomed to it, North Reading quarterback Brian Heffernan would fake the pass and then go deep, keeping the Reggies off stride.
That fake resulted in the first TD of the game, a 45-yarder to Greg Demetri in the second quarter. Then, after the Reggies scored with 1:06 left in the half on a 24-yard Maleek Dejesus run, the Hornets stung Greater Lawrence with a six-yard pass to the flat to Matt Luciano on the last play of the half, making it 15-6 at intermission.
The Reggies scored on the opening drive of the second half, with quarterback Shamil Diaz zooming in from 18 yards out, making it 15-12. But any momentum built up was negated right away when North Reading senior Jack Keller returned the ensuing kickoff 88 yards, making it 22-12.
Greater Lawrence came back again, with Diaz hitting Alvin Torres on a beautiful 49-yarder while scrambling and a Dejesus run for two made it, 22-20 early in the fourth.
But the Reggies’ offense could not get going after that, and Heffernan completed two long TD passes, giving him four on the day, when Reggie defenders failed to cover the deep ball, perhaps overly concerned with the pass in the flat.
“They’re good at that (pass to the flat) play and it’s very hard to cover,” said Greater Lawrence coach Tony Sarkis. “Then we had the breakdowns in coverage and that plus special-teams-play killed us.
“We’ve got some things to clean up but the kids are working hard and I think we’ll be able to do it.”
Referring to the successful pass play, and the fake off it, North Reading coach Ed Blum said: “They have some aggressive athletes and we thought we might have some success with it. You have to take what the defense gives you.”
Other than that, the Reggie defense was solid, particularly against the run, allowing just 35 yards on 18 carries.
On the other hand, the Reggies could not get any consistency on offense, with the running of Diaz (22 carries, 91 yards), the main threat. After rushing for 259 yards in the opener, he now has 350 yards in just two games.
One promising note for Greater Lawrence was the receiving of Chris Tineo, who caught five passes for 52 yards.
North Reading 35, Greater Lawrence 20
North Reading (2-0): 0 15 7 13 — 35
Greater Lawrence (1-1): 0 6 6 8 — 20
NR — Greg Demetri 45 pass from Brian Heffernan (Jak Keller pass from Heffernan) 6:07
GL — Maleek Dejesus 24 run (pass failed) 1:06
NR — Matt Luciano 6 pass from Heffernan (Robert Tammaro kick) 0:00
GL — Shamil Diaz 18 run (run failed) 5:28
NR — Jack Keller 88 kickoff return (Tammaro kick) 5:10
GL — Alvin Torres 49 pass from Diaz (Dejesus run) 10:07
NR — Keller 44 pass from Heffernan (Tammaro kick) 8:52
NR — Ryan Kavanaugh 40 pass from Heffernan (kick failed) 6:52
RUSHING: GL(36-161) — Shamil Diaz 22-91, Maleek Dejesus 13-58, Franklyn Espinal 1-2; NR (19-35) — Will O’Leary 10-40, Brian Heffernan 5-(-15); Greg Demetri 3-6, Ryan Kavanaugh 1-4
PASSING: GL — Diaz 11-24-2, 135; NR — Heffernan — 13-24-1, 220
RECEIVING: GL — Torres 2-52, Chris Tineo 5-51, Anthony Alves 3-21, Rene Lopes 1-11; NR — Matt Luciano 6-43, Kavanaugh 2-52, Aidan Carucci 2-18, Demetri 1-45, Jack Keller 2-62