LAWRENCE — Vinny Schmidt wanted another chance to be a hero and he made the most of it.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Lawrence junior fumbled away the ball just inches from the Haverhill end zone on a second-and-1 with the Lancers trailing 14-12.
“That was all me — I made a mistake and it was bad,” said Schmidt. “I had to keep my head up and hope I got another chance.”
That chance came with 12 seconds left in the game when quarterback Jacob Tamayo rolled left and threw a pass a bit low and short of the goal line. Schmidt waited for it, stooped down to retrieve it and then took it into the end zone for the winning points in an 18-14 victory — Lawrence’s first win of the season.
“I was scared waiting for the ball, but I knew I had to catch it,” said Schmidt, who led all rushers with 141 yards, including 97 in the second half.. “This was a big win for us.”
Statistically (385 total yards to 245 for Haverhill), and in time of possession, Lawrence had the advantage throughout the contest, but untimely penalties and two lost fumbles proved costly. Plus, the Hillies came through with a number of clutch plays to hold the lead much of the way.
Things did get off to a rousing start for Lawrence. After holding the Hillies to negative yards on their first possession, the Lancers blocked a punt and got the ball on the Haverhill 8-yard line. On the next play, Sergio Mendez swept around the right side for a touchdown and a sudden 6-0 lead,
But Haverhill took the lead in the second quarter, 7-6, when quarterback Brady Skafas avoided a blitz and threw a nifty slant pass to Teyshon McGee, who went 31 yards for the score and, after a Jakob Wimmer extra point kick, provided for a 7-6 Hillie lead.
Lawrence retook the lead on its first possession of the second half when it zoomed down the field on a six-play, 60-yard drive. Schmidt had the big play, a 36-yard run, and Dewy Baez plowed in from 1 yard out for the score, making it 12-7 when its second straight conversion run failed again.
The Lancers dominated the third quarter, pinning Haverhill deep in its own territory and only not scoring again when Schmidt fumbled.
But, on the second play of the fourth quarter, Skafas threw a bomb to McGee, who caught the ball at midfield, shrugged off a tackler at the 40 and went the rest of the way for an 89-yard touchdown, making it — following another Wimmer kick — 14-12 for the Hillies.
That set the stage for two Lawrence drives, the second of which resulted in the game-winning score.
In addition to the running and receptions by Schmidt, Tamayo completed 10 of 16 passes for 131 yards and rushed for 43 yards on seven carries and Manny Lara caught seven passes for 62 yards. Baez and Eric Sanchez stood out on defense.
“We’re very thankful that we could overcome our mistakes and come back like we did,” said Lawrence coach Rhandy Audate. “We would have liked to capitalize more, but we’re excited we could still get the win.”
Haverhill had its share of standouts in defeat. Skafas completed 11 of 19 passes for 185 yards and two touchdowns and McGee ended with five catches for 122 yards.
Defensively, Brandon Grundy, Shane McGonagle, Jose Sanchez and McGee all made a number of key tackles. But, in the end, it wasn’t enough as the Hillies dropped to 0-5, losing their second game in two weeks by four points or less.
“Congratulations to Lawrence, they deserved to win,” said Haverhill coach Tim O’Connor. “We just have to get better.”
Lawrence 18, Haverhill 14
Haverhill (0-5): 0 7 0 7 — 14
Lawrence (1-4): 6 0 6 6 — 18
L — Sergio Mendez 8 run (run failed), 9:40
H — Teyshon McGee 31 pass from Brady Skafas (Jakob Wimmer kick), 6:46
L — Dewy Baez 1 run (run failed), 9:42
H — McGee 89 pass from Brady (Wimmer kick), 11:12
L — Vinny Schmidt 12 pass from Jacob Tamayo (run failed), :12
RUSHING: Haverhill (19-60)— Brady Skafas 7-25, Aiden Alvarado 4-5, Disani Houston 7-15, Jose Sanchez 1-15; Lawrence (36-254) — Dewy Baez 5-21, Sergio Mendez 5-10, Jacob Tamayo 7-43, Vinny Schmidt 17-141, Adonis Garcia 1-14, Elvoris Mercedes 1-25
PASSING: Haverhill — Skafas 11-19-0, 185; Lawrence — Tamayo 10-16-0, 131
RECEIVING: Haverhill — McGee 5-122, Houston 2-62, Jayden Johnson 2-6, Alvarado 2-(-5); Lawrence — Garcia 1-45, Schmidt 2-24, Manny Lara 7-62
Used to pressure
Vinny Schmidt, who scored the winning touchdown for Lawrence Saturday and led the Lancers with 141 rush yards, had a huge pressure touchdown last year — for Greater Lawrence. In the state vocational bowl, he scored the winning touchdown in overtime on a 10-yard run as the Reggies defeated Northeast.
“That was exciting and this is exciting,” said Schmidt.
Lawrence coach Rhandy Audate was not surprised.
“I don’t know why he transferred but he’s been a blessing for us,” said Audate. “He has a winning attitude.”