North Reading coach Jeff Wall said his game plan coming into the game at Hamilton-Wenham on Saturday – a marquee match-up of top Cape Ann League Tier 4 teams – was to keep the Generals 1-2 punch of Trevor Lyons and Elliot Burr to the outside and then contain them with support.
In his words “that didn’t work” as Lyons, the dynamic and lightning-quick quarterback, torched the Hornets defense for 262 yards on 22 carries and three of his four touchdowns on sweeps to the outside as the home team recorded a 28-12 victory.
“We basically wanted to keep them outside … and stuff the middle,” said Wall, whose team fell to 5-3, 2-1 in the CAL. “That didn’t work as they got guys outside and took care of us (on blocks).”
It very easily could have been a game when HW (8-0, 3-0) had a slim 14-6 advantage at the half and North Reading opening the third quarter with the ball. But the Hornets went three-and-out and the Generals followed with a one-play, 76-yard Lyons sweep around the right side untouched to grab a 21-7 lead. Burr sprung his backfield mate with a monster block to open the alley.
Even though North Reading answered with a 60-yard scoring pass play from Jackson Kellogg to Charles McCarthy, Lyons did it again to the “containment” when he again scored on a one-play drive – a 61-yard sprint, again down the right side untouched.
“What we wanted to do was get outside because (North Reading) was blitzing up the middle,” said Lyons. “At first we wanted to ground and pound (in the first half) but that didn’t work, so we started to run it outside.
“That’s what’s dangerous about us, we can do both.”
Burr proved that point when he iced the game as he gained 61 of his 83 yards to run out the clock after Hamilton-Wenham took the 28-12 lead.
“Burr … always wants the ball, but he understands his role, and he made a monster block on one of the TDs,” said coach Andrew Morency of his co-number 1 runner. “But it is great to have a 200-pound running back in the fourth quarter.”
Wall knew what his team faced going into the game. He said he didn’t worry about the pass but in the end it didn’t matter.
“Hamilton-Wenham is a very talented team, no doubt about it,” he said.
“They came out ready in the second half. They took care of us at the line and once (their running backs) got to our linebackers we were in trouble.”
North Reading opened the scoring on its first drive, after holding HW to 3 yards when it first got the ball. On the fifth play of the drive fullback Ryan Sanborn took a direct snap and went up the middle for 41 yards and the score.
Carl Lipani, one of the leading running backs in the CAL had three of the first four carries in the game, helping the Hornets move the ball to the HW 41. He finished with a tough 70 yards on 23 carries.
On the second North Reading scoring drive Lipani had four straight runs, for 10 yards, prior to the scoring strike. Kellogg got the ball off just before the pocket began to collapse as he found a wide open McCarthy, who caught the ball at the 25 and went in untouched.
The Generals answered on its signature long drive – 10 plays and 68 yards. Lyons had two longs runs of 32 and 13 yards before he capped the drive with an 11-yard TD. Wide receivers Pete Duval and Cody Cohan blocked the cornerbacks in order to allow the quarterback to sneak into the end zone with 1:45 remaining the first quarter.
Hamilton-Wenham upped its advantage to 14-6 on a 13-play drive, helping HW to a 26-15 advantage in offensive plays in the first half. Despite having a score called back on the drive the Generals marched on and scored on a 3rd-and-goal 1-yard sneak by Lyons with 1:04 showing in the second quarter. Duval kept the drive alive when he recovered a fumble on a 2nd-and-goal run.
"We made adjustments (after the two second-half touchdowns) but it was too late," Wall said.