You only have one chance to do something monumental as a senior. And Hamilton-Wenham’s Elliot Burr was seconds from being remembered for something huge in his final season - in a negative way.
But Burr, and his team, redeemed themselves. And in the process kept their hopes for a second straight playoff appearance alive.
After his fumble midway through the third quarter was taken back by Tyler Palumbo for a Lynnfield touchdown to put the Generals in an 8-point hole, he came back to score and convert the two-point rush with 37 ticks remaining on the clock to tie the game.
Hamilton-Wenham (7-0, 2-0 Cape Ann League/Northeastern Conference Tier 4) finished off the comeback when witha a score in the overtime period and stopped the Pioneers for a 22-14 victory.
“Our season was on the line,” said Burr, who had 90 yards on 27 carries and also scored from one yard out in the first quarter. “With the competition in the (Cape Ann) League we can’t lose more than once.”
Lynnfield coach Neal Weidman was impressed having held the favored Generals to only six points through three-plus quarters but knew the game wasn’t over.
“We knew we had to play hard for four quarters,” he said. “We knew it would be a close game and we could stay with them.”
In the overtime session, each team gets the ball at the 10-yard line and if it scores it has to attempt a two-point conversion.
The Generals got off to an auspicious start when elusive quarterback Trevor Lyons (24 carries, 110 yards) lost 5 yards on a keeper on first down. But he followed that with a 12-yard pass on a slant by Matt Putur (5 receptions, 39 yards). Two plays later Lyons dove into the end zone from the 2. He scored the conversion for the lead.
Lynnfield (3-5, 1-2) put itself in a hole on its OT opportunity. A one-yard gain by quarterback Michael Karavetsos (15 carries, 55 yards) and an incompletion set up a third-and-goal from the 9. The junior quarterback (7-for-18, 74 yards) found Alexander Pascucci for four yards but another incompletion in the back of the end zone ended the game.
“They gave us their best. We were on our heels,” said Hamilton-Wenham coach Andrew Morency. “It takes special types of kids to be down in the fourth quarter and come back. I couldn’t be more proud of these kids; In overtime we came out and made the plays.”
Leading 7-6 at the half, the Pioneers marched down the field for a nine-play drive to the Generals 11. The final play put a halt to the drive when Pete Duval cut in front of the Lynnfield receiver and picked off the pass in the end zone. The officiating team had to peel off players before pointing in the direction of the visiting team.
“Our (player) said he caught it but (Hamilton-Wenham) grabbed it away,” Weidman said. “But the refs said it was an interception.”
Hamilton-Wenham moved the ball 15 yards in three plays on the ensuing drive before Burr was stripped by Palumbo just past the line of scrimmage. The Lynnfield defensive back sprinted 35 yards for the score, with no one from either team within 15 yards of him. Alex Roper’s second PAT pushed the Pioneers lead to 14-6 with 5:02 left in the third quarter.
Bad luck seemed to follow Lynnfield for much of the game.
At the start of the fourth quarter, during an 11-play drive, it appeared Karavetsos scored on a 22-yard run but a holding penalty brought the TD back and Lynnfield gave the ball back on downs when defensive back Steve Turpin broke up a pass intended for Steven Yobaccio.
The Generals started the game-tying drive at their 36 with 5:05 left in the contest.
A 15-yard run, with a 15-yard facemask penalty, on the second play had Hamilton-Wenham at the Lynnfield 30. The powerful running game, which came in averaging more than 250 yards a game, wore down the Pioneers defense, and the clock. Burr capped the drive with a 1-yard dive on fourth-and-goal.
“Everyone was supporting each other and said we needed to make up (for my fumble),” said Burr, a senior captain. “No one was down. We knew we could come back.
“Lynnfield has been the best team we’ve faced this year.”
The Generals took the opening drive for 63 yards on 11 plays, capped by Burr’s 1-yarder on fourth-and-goal. The drive consisted of all running plays – seven by Burr, three by Lyons and one by Putur.
Lynnfield took the lead at the end of the first half. Karavetsos had big completions to keep the drive churning – 13 yards to Pascucci on third-and-12 from their own 30, and 17 yards to AJ Gallo five plays later to convert a third-and-7. Kyle McGah (15 carries, 53 yards) capped the drive with an 11-yard score.