METHUEN — Methuen High put an exclamation point on an outstanding season, rolling to a 46-7 drubbing of Dracut High, Thanksgiving morning at Nicholson Stadium.
The Rangers’ outstanding core of seniors were honored prior to the game and from the opening kickoff, they showed why they are one of the best classes in decades.
Five different seniors found the end zone for Methuen (8-3), scoring on the ground, through the air, on a punt return and even a fumble recovery. Three more upperclassmen anchored a defensive unit that held Dracut to just 106 yards of total offense, and just 11 yards over the final three quarters.
With the win, Methuen extended its lead in the Thanksgiving series to 29-27-3.
“I’m proud of our kids. This program has come a long way. Our seniors played a ton and that’s what Thanksgiving is all about,” said Methuen Coach Tom Ryan. “There’s a lot of camaraderie, a lot of brotherhood. I’m really going to miss this group of seniors.”
Fortunately for Ryan, he also has plenty of young talent returning, led by quarterback Drew Eason. The 6-1, 185-pound sophomore completed his first 12 passes and finished 16 of 18 for 179 yards and a 7-yard touchdown to senior Will McKinnon (7 catches, 79 yards).
Senior running back JP Muniz capped his career with a pair of touchdown runs, including a 9-yard scamper on the opening drive to stake the Rangers to an early 6-0 lead. Methuen doubled its lead on its next possession, as Eason engineered a 67-yard drive. Senior captain Alex Borrelli finished it off with a 5-yard TD run to make it 12-0.
Just when it looked like Methuen might have things in hand, Dracut caught the Rangers off-guard and played itself back into the game. Senior Josh Gagnon, operating out of a Wildcat formation, took a direct snap, powered his way up the middle, breaking tackles and racing for a 75-yard touchdown. The PAT cut the deficit to 12-7.
Dracut (2-8) had a chance to take the lead, recovering a fumble at their own 38-yard line late in the quarter. That was when the Methuen defense, led by a pair of undersized defensive linemen and a linebacker who missed of the year due to injury, took over the game.
Senior nose tackle Joe Jean, the Methuen defensive MVP this season, and senior tackle Marcus “Cadillac” Heisler dominated the trenches, combining for three sacks and six tackles for loss. Senior linebacker Joe Pinto, last season’s Fall 2 defensive MVP, made up for time he lost this season due to a thumb injury, with 10 tackles, including two for loss.
Over the final three quarters, Methuen limited the Middies to just three first downs.
“We had to stay positive (after Goguen’s TD run) and come back strong. and you could see the outcome,” said Jean.
Jean is generously listed at 180 pounds. Heisler is listed at 195 and the pair give up 40-60 pounds to the offensive linemen across from them.
“Speed is important, but it’s also about having the heart to want to hit and play the game,” said Heisler. “Coach (Terry) Donovan has done a great job of coaching two people you’d never think of being defensive linemen but we make it work.”
While the defense was shutting down Dracut, the offense was extending the lead. Muniz scored from three yards out, and Eason and McKinnon connected on their 7-yard TD pass just before the half, to put the Rangers up 25-7 at intermission.
In the second half, special teams got into the act, as senior Jason Silverio returned a punt 35 yards for a touchdown late in the third quarter. On Dracut’s next possession, an errant snap sailed into the end zone and Methuen senior Jaetel Gomez emerged from the pile with the ball and a touchdown to make it 39-7.
With Ryan substituting liberally in the fourth quarter, Joshua Quokey capped the scoring with a 4-yard touchdown run.
“I’m proud of what our kids accomplished,” said Ryan. “We played four teams in the Top 10 this year and played well against them. We have nothing to hang our heads about. 8-3 is an great season.”
Methuen 46, Dracut 7
Dracut (2-8): 7 0 0 0 — 7
Methuen (8-3): 12 13 14 7 — 46
M — JP Muniz 9 run (pass fails), 10:24
M — Alex Borrelli 5 run (pass fails), 3:13
D — Joshua Gagnon 75 run (Gagnon kick), 2:53
M — Muniz 3 run (rush fails), 2:14
M — Will McKinnon 7 pass from Drew Eason (Omar Aboutoui kick), 0:07
M — Jason Silverio 35 punt return (Aboutoui kick), 3:03
M — Jaetel Gomez fumble recovery end zone (Aboutoui kick), 2:45
M — Joshua Quokey 4 run (Aboutoui kick), 6:10
RUSHING: Methuen (29-144) — JP Muniz 6-54, Tarrell McDowell 9-28, Drew Eason 7-25, Xander Silva 2-21, Sam Kalivas 1-16, Alex Borrelli 1-5, Joshua Quokey 1-4, Braeden Carter 1-3, Joshua Silverio 1-minus 12; Dracut (24-64) — Joshua Gagnon 10-89, Victor Cardoso 4-20, Ismael Zouaoui 1-2, Anothy Fazio 1-minus 5, Collin Arsenault 6-minus 8, Jacob Pynn 2-(-14)
PASSING: Methuen — Drew Eason 16-18-0, 179, Xander Silva 0-1-0; Dracut — Jacob Pynn 5-16-1, 42, Joshua Gagnon 1-1-0, 8
RECEIVING: Methuen — Will McKinnon 7-76, Jason Silverio 4-38, Alex Borrelli 1-27, Anesti Tuoma 2-19, Braeden Carter 2-19; Dracut — Jacob Truong 2-23, Kai McDonald 2-15, Mitchell Cripps 2-12