LOWELL — Ayden Pereira continues to impress week after week, and that doesn’t bode well for the rest of the MVC.
Through some strong winds and heavy mist Friday night, the sophomore quarterback accounted for 181 total yards and four touchdowns to lead Central Catholic to a comfortable 41-14 win over Lowell. And perhaps his best play came on the Raiders’ opening drive.
Pereira was flushed out of the pocket and looked to be dragged down for a loss, but the 6-foot, 160-pounder did his best Eli Manning impression in Super Bowl XLII and was able to spin free and find Nathan Hebert for a 9-yard gain. On the next play, he hit Nick Donatio across the middle for a 25-yard touchdown and the rout was on.
“He’s a stud,” said senior running back Mark Kassis. “I have all of my confidence with him. I know that he’s going to lead us as well as he can.”
The Raiders (4-1) ran out to a 27-0 lead at halftime.
After Pereira’s opening strike, the defensive line led by Dom Pedi, Jermaine Wiggins and Brendan Cesati stuffed Lowell and forced a punt. Six plays later, Pereira ran in an 8-yard score. Lowell (2-3) then fumbled the snap on the first play of its next drive, and three plays after that sophomore Nathel Achuo plunged in from a yard out.
The Raider defense continued to stymie Lowell, allowing just 9 total yards of offense in the first half thanks to two fumbles and a handful of bad snaps, and Kassis broke off a 39-yarder before the break to make it 27-0.
“I thought the guys up front did well,” said Central coach Chuck Adamopoulos. “Those three kids up front have done a good job, and our two outside linebackers (Kevin Higgins and Nick Palmer) have done a good job, too.
“Then a guy like Mark Kassis is Mr. Reliable for us at running back.”
Kassis led the Raiders on the ground with 58 yards on eight carries and was able to take most of the second half off.
Pereira capped a 12-play, 75-yard drive to start the third quarter with his second rushing TD of the game, then after a Lowell score he found Connor Finneran on a 15-yard strike.
Popular senior kicker Sebastian Hutchison drilled the final PAT, and was promptly swarmed by all of his teammates in pure joy.
Lowell sparkplug Brendan Tighe scored both of his team’s touchdowns, capping off his fine day with a 63-yard scamper against the Central reserves in the fourth. The UNH recruit finished with a game-high 130 yards on 12 carries.
“(Lowell) had a nice drive on us there (in the third), they were able to run on us,” said Adamopoulos. “But we’re 2-0 in the league now, which is important to us. It’s another step in the right direction for us, so it’s a good week.”
Now winners of three straight, Central will prepare to host a currently-unbeaten Methuen team on Friday (7 p.m.) with huge MVC Large implications.
“We feel confident,” said Kassis. “You know, we’ve had a great year of preparation all the way back to offseason workouts. I think Methuen’s going to come to us and we’re going to give them all we got. We’re going to keep grinding for the MVC Large.”